Trademark Phrase Spews Ugliness

We’ve all heard the worn out expression that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. But there are ugly people in both Hollywood and Washington. And there are phrases bonding the cities in hopes of making a profit.

That enough ugliness for you yet?

Hollywood on the Potomac. It’s  a blog whose name is trademarked by D.C. Publicist Janet Donovan.

The Daily Beast‘s Washington Bureau Chief Howard Kurtz set off a wave of angst and ugliness earlier this week after we ran a published tweet in which he used the phrase above to pimp a story by his daughter, Judy Kurtz, a new gossip columnist for The Hill. Kurtz Jr. wrote on Rob Lowe‘s son Matthew coming to Washington this summer to intern for House Maj. Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). He wrote, “The Hill scoop. Hollywood on the Potomac Edition. Eric Cantor’s newest intern is Rob Lowe’s 17-year-old son.”

Enter a persistent Donovan. Her lawyer had stern words about Kurtz’s use of the phrase. In short, they’re letting it slide. But next time? He may get a cease and desist letter, which is what usually happens when anyone, aside from Donovan, uses the phrase. For now, Donovan sent him a polite personal note asking him not to use the phrase again. He hasn’t replied.

Read the letter from Donovan’s lawyer…

Twitter’s published Trademark Policy provides that using a company or business name, logo, or other trademark-protected materials in a manner that may mislead or confuse others with regard to a brand or business affiliation may be considered a trademark policy violation.

When Twitter receives reports of trademark policy violations from holders of federal or international trademark registrations, it will review the account and When there is a clear intent to mislead others through the unauthorized use of a trademark, Twitter will suspend the account and notify the account holder.

If instead an account appears to be confusing users, but is not purposefully passing itself off as the trademarked good or service, Twitter will give the account holder an opportunity to clear up any potential confusion.

Using another’s trademark in a way that has nothing to do with the product or service for which the trademark was granted is not a violation of Twitter’s trademark policy.

We have decided to view Mr. Kurtz’s first time use of our client’s trademark in this case to be inadvertent and unintentional. But we will continue to strongly defend our client’s trademark against any and all future infringements.


James J. Gross
Thyden  Gross & Callahan, LLP