Sun-Times magazine title fight goes off the Grid

Another day, another trademark infringement battle.


Monday’s story here recounted the legal dispute between This American Life and This American Whore. Today’s combatants are Grid and The Chicago Grid.


In one corner is Wrapports LLC, parent company of the Sun-Times and publisher of Grid, a new weekly business magazine and website. Its first issue, featuring Rocky Wirtz on the cover, appeared in city editions of the Sunday Sun-Times on February 3.


And in the other corner is Chicago free-lance writer Kristina Zaremba, founder, publisher and editor of The Chicago Grid, a quarterly online magazine covering “local art, culture, public affairs and digital life,” launched in July 2009.


The Chicago Grid is run by volunteers and is funded out of my own pocket and by donations,” Zaremba said. “It breaks my heart that a media giant like Wrapports either lacks the ethics, ingenuity, or due diligence required to come up with an original name for its new publication.”


On Monday, Zaremba went public with her dispute, accusing Wrapports of trademark infringement and noting the similarity of her website address at thechicagogrid.com and Twitter name @ChicagoGrid with those of Wrapports’ Grid at chicagogrid.com and @Grid_Chicago.


“I have received emails and tweets intended for Wrapports, and I've seen unusual traffic since their launch, which indicates confusion between the two publications due to Wrapports choosing a mark so similar to mine,” Zaremba said in a statement. She said she has reached out to Wrapports’ general counsel but has not received a response.


Zaremba’s statement expressed outrage that Wrapports would “sink to such lows as to recycle an idea that an independent journalist had four years ago,” adding: “With such a large paid staff, it's really sad that they couldn't come up with an original name. Either they are incompetent and didn't perform the necessary due diligence or are lacking serious ethics and lifted a name ready-made from a publication that is staffed by volunteers and funded out of my own pocket and through donations.”


Asked to comment on Zaremba’s threatened legal action, Wrapports released the following statement: “Grid is a weekly business publication that appears in print and digital media. Ms. Zaremba’s website is not a business magazine, nor does it even appear to be active.”


A spokeswoman for the company declined further comment.


Multiple local websites and Twitter accounts use the word “Grid,” including Grid Chicago, a blog about sustainable transportation matters (recently renamed Streetsblog Chicago), The Grid, a website for a sports bar in River North, and Chicago Artist Grid. Elsewhere, dozens of other publications and e-zines also incorporate the word.


 



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