T N N   B A C K G R O U N D E R

CHRONOLOGY:

The Network Network was founded in October 1986 by Clive Hermann.  The company provides consulting and training internationally to IT (information technology) managers and professionals as they establish and maintain computer networks.  While they cater to a niche market they service such prestigious clients as American Express, BellSouth, GTE, AT&T, Lucent, Microsoft, Citibank, Bell Atlantic, Hong Kong Trade Development Corporation, Philips and the US Air Force.  The business was incorporated in California on November 30, 1988.  The Network Network registered the Internet domain name www.tnn.com on January 7, 1994.

CBS, Inc., through their wholly owned subsidiary Network Enterprises, Inc, acquired The Nashville Network from Gaylord Entertainment Company on September 30, 1997.  Gaylord Entertainment previously acquired the network from Opreyland USA, Inc. who had registered the service mark TNN (shorthand for The Nashville Network) on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office on January 20, 1987 for use in, “television program production services and distribution of television programming to cable television systems.”

CLAIMS BY CBS:

The Nashville Network is a cable television network which has been on the air since 1983.  With the explosive growth of the Internet, television networks have been moving to extend their presence to the Internet.  In doing so, they have realized the importance of having recognizable domain names. Many networks have domain names that match their call letters.  However, CBS found that The Network Network was already using “TNN.”.

Shortly after CBS acquired The Nashville Network, CBS sent “cease and desist” letters to The Network Network, demanding that The Network Network stop using www.tnn.com as its website.

The Nashville Network claimed that without the domain name for the website, their capacity to identify their goods and services on the Internet is “completely eliminated” and they claimed that The Network Network was  “diluting” their allegedly famous mark.  CBS also claimed that without the domain name there is a “critical disadvantage to them in the highly competitive television industry because the television industry relies on call letters to identify themselves on the Internet as they do on the television channel lineup.”

CONCLUSIONS BY THE JUDGE

United States District Judge, Nora M. Manella denied CBS’s motion for summary judgment based on their federal and California infringement and dilution claims, and granted The Network Network’s motion for summary judgment on the same claims.  In an extensive written opinion, Judge Manella rejected each of CBS’s claims.  For the complete Court Order as filed on January 19, 2000, as well as the parties summary judgment motions and other documents related to the case, log on to The Network Network’s website: www.tnn.com

The Network Network has filed a motion to have CBS pay its attorneys fees and costs.  The motion is currently scheduled to be heard on May 1, 2000.

More information on the lawsuit.

Relevant documents.