IAB Sues MediaPost Over Trademark

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has slapped MediaPost Communications and its affiliate Fadner Media Enterprises with a lawsuit alleging breach of contract, breach of joint venture and unfair competition.

The dispute centers around the trademark for the Online Media Marketing and Advertising Awards (OMMA), which the two co-produced last year. The Awards were presented in conjunction with Interactive Advertising World (IAW), a two-day conference the IAB and MediaPost held in September 2004, during Advertising Week in New York City.

The IAB says the legal action comes after “numerous telephone calls” and “many written notifications” that attempted to settle the issue amicably. The trade group said it finally decided to file suit after noting Fadner Media Enterprises had applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark under its own name to use for a magazine, email newsletters, and an awards program”.

“It [the OMMA mark] was created jointly and used jointly,” said Cathy Callegari, a spokesperson for the IAB. “That was the way the letter of agreement was set up.”

The IAB contends MediaPost’s continued use of the OMMA name will create confusion in the marketplace among people who associate it with the trade organization.

Though he hasn’t yet seen the legal papers, Kenneth Fadner, publisher of MediaPost and head of Fadner Communications, sees things differently.

“It’s a name we invented that we informed them we were intending to use in the future and that we would essentially loan to the event,” said Fadner. “Then they cancelled the joint venture, so the name reverts to us. It’s really that simple, and I guess the legal process will figure out who is right.”

This year, the IAB entered into a joint venture with VNU’s Adweek Magazine to co-produce an event, the MIXX Conference, Expo and Awards Show, in conjunction with Advertising Week. The VNU partnership is the third for the IAB in four years. In 2002, the trade group teamed with Jupitermedia, ClickZ’s parent company, to produce the Jupiter/IAB Advertising Forum.

The IAB’s lawsuit seeks an injunction that would prevent MediaPost and Fadner Media from further using the OMMA mark.

MediaPost Communications is not a member of the IAB and never has been, according to the company and the organization.

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