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Current TV facing two lawsuits over name

Cincinnati, Minneapolis companies claiming trademark issues
/ Source: The Associated Press

A cable television network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore is facing at least two lawsuits challenging its use of the name Current TV.

A Maryland company is suing in federal court in Cincinnati claiming trademark infringement. Minnesota Public Radio has made a similar complaint in a Minneapolis court.

“This is a straight-forward case of trademark infringement,” according to briefs filed last month in U.S. District Court by Current Communications Group of Germantown, Md., a provider of broadband Internet services that relies on a Cincinnati company to help distribute its service.

Current Communications contends that it had registered several variations of “Current” trademarks before Current TV was introduced in April 2005.

Minnesota Public Radio claimed in a suit filed earlier this month that it applied to register “The Current” as a trademark four months before Gore’s network changed its name to Current TV.

Gore’s company bought Newsworld International, a 24-hour cable network, from Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in May 2004 and had planned to use the name “INdTV” and aim programming at 20-somethings, according to the Cincinnati lawsuit.

Current TV, based in San Francisco, features alternative news and “citizen journalism” pieces, many submitted by amateurs who send in video. According to its web site, viewers contribute about one-third of the station’s content.

A message seeking comment from Current TV on the Cincinnati lawsuit was not immediately returned. Earlier, the company issued a statement in response to the MPR lawsuit saying more than 300 U.S. businesses use the word “current” in their name.

“We know of no consumers who confuse us with Minnesota Public Radio, and we can’t imagine that anybody ever would,” the statement said.