Feb 2, 2021 - Economy & Business

The American Spectator sues The Spectator for trademark infringement

On the left is the latest issue of The Spectator U.S. edition. On the right is a screen shot from the home page of the American Spectator magazine.

The U.S. version of the Spectator, the world’s oldest English-language magazine, is being sued by the American Spectator Foundation for trademark infringement around its name, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Until this lawsuit, sources say the two titles had an amicable relationship for the past four decades.

  • The Spectator has been selling its U.K. magazine in the U.S. for over 100 years. In 2019 it launched a U.S. print version, a year after launching its U.S. digital site.
  • The American Spectator, which is now just a digital magazine, has undergone a few iterations since its inception in 1967. The conservative news magazine is run by The American Spectator Foundation.

Details: The American Spectator Foundation is suing The Spectator for entering the U.S. market, both in print and online, with a name and logo that's similar to its own publication. The lawsuit demands that The Spectator pay the American Spectator Foundation for damages caused by the branding confusion, among other things.

  • "Prior to entering the U.S. market, Spectator Ltd. was aware of "The American Spectator" mark and its use on magazines and other publications and in connection with a website," the lawsuit says.
  • "Despite its knowledge of "The American Spectator" mark and its use in the United States for decades, Spectator Ltd. elected to enter the U.S. market with a competing magazine and website under the confusingly similar marks Spectator USA, The Spectator U.S. Edition, and The Spectator."

In a statement provided to Axios, The Spectator says it had discussed its plans to launch in America with The American Spectator's editor, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., and others at the foundation in advance of its U.S. launch.

  • "Given our longstanding presence in America and that amicable relationship, we were surprised when The American Spectator decided to pursue us through the courts," the statement says.

Be smart: The two outlets don't have similar content, just similar names. The Spectator is less ideological, more global and covers more arts and culture. The American Spectator has long focused on political analysis in America through a conservative viewpoint.

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