What’s in a Name? A great deal…

First, there was the rather brief debate about who owned the term "Fair and Balanced," sparked by Fox News' recent lawsuit against satirist Al Franken, who uses "Fair and
Balanced" -- Fox News' tagline -- in the title of his new book. That suit was quickly laughed out of court. But it's no laughing matter when it comes to who owns the trademark,
'Entrepreneur.' U.S. District Judge Florence Marie Cooper recently ruled that EntrepreneurPR, a Northern California PR firm specializing in small businesses, infringed on
Entrepreneur Media's "Entrepreneur" trademark under which it publishes Entrepreneur Magazine. Cooper ruled that Scott Smith must pay nearly $1.4 million in damages and attorney
fees for using the name EntrepreneurPR. Smith, who has already filed a notice of appeal, changed his company name in 1997 to EntrepreneurPR from ICON Publications. A year earlier
Entrepreneur Media had promoted his firm on its Web site. Entrepreneur Media filed a trademark infringement complaint in 1998 and the case has been in the courts ever since, but
is the endgame at hand? Smith, whose PR firm is now called BizStarz, had to lay off his 12 workers and now works out of his home in Sacramento. "It's another bad example of
corporate bullying against America's small businesses," Smith says. "The judge bizarrely ruled that because Entrepreneur magazine has an advertiser that provides PR services ---
PR Newswire -- that the magazine and my own PR firm have substantially similar services. It's an insane ruling because Entrepreneur Media obviously does not provide PR services."
Mark Finkelstein, a partner in the Orange County, Ca. office of law firm Latham & Watkins, represented Entrepreneur Media in this case. "There's this notion that we own the
word 'Entrepreneur' and that nobody else use it under any circumstances. That's nonsense," he says. "Smith was using it in a way that was creating confusion for the brand and the
magazine." Asked about other businesses that use the term 'Entrepreneur,' such as Female Entrepreneur Magazine, Finkelstein says his client "will look at other uses and go after
people thought to be infringing on the trademark."