Satellite TV station Russia Today battles for US rights
Friday, May 4th, 2007
The Kremlin’s English language satellite television station Russia Today is fighting for control of its US brand rights, it said today, a battle which could decide its broadcasting future in the United States. The United States Trademark Office on Wednesday turned down Russia Today’s trademark application for ‘RT Russia Today’ because it was too similar to ‘Russia Today’ already owned by IPD Group, an internet media company based in Washington, DC. IPD Group has demanded US satellite companies ditch the Russia Today channel, citing copyright law.
Russia Today said today the US ruling did not mean a rejection, but instead that it had until October to provide proof its brand did not clash with another. ”This is a standard procedure that requires some time,” the station said in a statement.
Russia has spent millions of dollars on the Russia Today 24-hour television news station, launched with the words: “From Russia to the world”. The station, which was founded by state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, is aimed at sprucing up Russia’s image. It says it is funded from state coffers and bank loans. Top Russian officials say the world’s view of Russia is tarnished by biased reports by foreign journalists.
Russia Today, which says it is editorially independent from the Kremlin, has heavily branded itself with its white, green and black RT logos which appear on its television channel and on cameras and vans around Moscow. ”IPD Group has sent letters to Comcast, Intelsat and MHz network, all of which carry the Russian government’s Russia Today channel, demanding they immediately stop violating the IPD Group’s Russia Today trademark,” the company said.
IPD Group owns the www.russiatoday.com website and says it registered the trademark in the United States in 1996. The website is a subscription-based digest and roundup of news from Russia. Russia Today’s own website, www.russiatoday.ru, says the channel broadcasts to 100 countries around the world and has correspondents throughout the former Soviet Union and in London, Paris, Jerusalem, Cairo and Washington.
Russia Today said that both the Russian federal trademark authority and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have recognised its ownership of the brand name. Under WIPO rules each individual country then has up to 18 months to check trademarks do not infringe current rights in the member countries - the process the United States is currently processing with Russia Today.
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