Village Voice Media Holdings (now Voice Media Group), which owns New Times Broward/Palm Beach, is suing Yelp in Arizona federal court over its use of "Best Of" in at least 10 cities. The firm is seeking to stop the social networking, user review and local search website and app from using the term, which is trademarked.
Village Voice runs annual "Best Of' lists, highlighting everything from restaurants to car repair shops to salons, in all of its publications, from Los Angeles, to Houston to Miami. The company is claiming "Yelp has irreparably damaged the valuable reputation and goodwill of VVMH and its 'Best Of' marks."
Voice is demanding Yelp pay any profits it earned using the phrase and any other costs Voice incurs filing the lawsuit.
Yelp representatives did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Jeff John Roberts of paidcontent.org said "more broadly, the lawsuit reflects Village Voice Media Holding's efforts to find more revenue streams at a time when alternative newspapers have lost their cachet."
Village Voice brass (the company was sold by founders to its own executives recently) are standing by their decision, and new media entities are torquing the company in the blogosphere, calling it the corporate equivalent of a wimpy kiddy baby whiner, pointing to similar instances where the company has sued other entities for using the "Best Of" term.
"Earlier this month, Time Out (New York) dared publish their Best of NYC issue, and the Village Voice says they're the only one whose ad teams gets to pitch special 'best of' ad buys to run alongside lists of the Best Sex Shops on Staten Island," wrote New York blog Gothamist. "And so this week Village Voice Media filed a lawsuit against Time Out over the alleged theft of such precious intellectual property. (Check back later today for our roundup of the 5 Best Desperate Media Lawsuits!)"
"We've owned this trademark for years and people know us by it," says New Times Broward Palm Beach editor Chuck Strouse. "Thousands of shops all over the area have our stickers and awards in their windows."
It's not yet clear how this one will play out but a couple things are for sure. The SEO pros are browning their shorts, and the lawyers are making a killing.
Take a look at the text of the suit for yourself: