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  D.F.'s Column Archive

January 15, 2007

Catfight! ‘NASDAQ Wore Our Dress!’


Meet NASDAQ and PR Newswire. You think they are a stock market and a press release distribution company. But they are not. They are two women who are mad at each other because one copied the other’s dress purchase.


I’ll prove it.


A long time ago, when I was still a humble business reporter, I showed up for work one day to discover that two of my colleagues – Lovely Lisa and Amorous Amber – had shown up for work wearing exactly identical dresses.


They were nice dresses, too! But this had not been done intentionally, and Lisa did not feel lovely about it, nor did Amber feel any amour. To make matters even more perfect – oh, sorry ladies, I mean worse (no I don’t) – Lovely Lisa and Amorous Amber sat right, smack dab next to each other.


This was one of the funniest days I can ever recall in that newsroom. If you don’t think it can be amusing to be around two grumpy people for eight hours straight – having them constantly tell you “get away and stop looking over here!” – you didn’t see these two in these dresses.


What I don’t exactly remember is which woman first saw the dress on the other and decided to go and buy one for herself. But there was certainly a copycat involved, and the original dress picker-outer was none too happy about it.


This long-ago cat fight leads us to the latest highly intelligent, well-worth-the-time lawsuit in the world of female frivolity, I mean business.


NASDAQ puts out news through a service it called, until recently, Primezone Media Network. PR Newswire puts out press releases on behalf of its member public relations firms all across the country. Recently, NASDAQ decided to rename Primezone Media Network and start calling it Prime Newswire.


Big Whoop. No. It is! At least as far as PR Newswire is concerned.


NASDAQ wore our dress PR Newswire complained in a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. We were planning on wearing it to attract dates and media coverage, but now she shows up in the same exact outfit! That ho!


PR Newswire seeks injunctive relief and wants NASDAQ to change into a halter top. NASDAQ vows to “vigorously” defend itself and calls PR Newswire a whiny little, er, female dog.


This is a lawsuit about so-called intellectual property, which makes sense, sure, because fighting about such things is about as intellectual as a feud about a dress. But this is standard fare in the business world.


CEOs love to listen to intellectual property attorneys, who tell them to jealously defend their names, their “primary marks” (that’s a logo to you and me) and anything else that might cause anyone to confuse them, however theoretically, with anyone else.


I once did business with a company whose name contained a first syllable that was also the name of a famous computer company. This first syllable might also have had a farmer in it. Well hi ho the merry-o, the farmer didn’t sue, but the computer company did. The company somehow satisfied the jealous, famous computer company by changing a double consonant in its name to a single consonant, then the owners of the company got about the more serious business of suing each other.


PR Newswire claims that the “goodwill” associated with its name is being depleted by NASDAQ’s use of the name Prime Newswire. Hey! Shouldn’t someone get the lawyers for Goodwill Industries on this?


Speaking of which, maybe PR Newswire and NASDAQ should head down to the Goodwill store, pick out a pair of matching outfits and just call a truce. Lovely Lisa and Amorous Amber eventually made up. Love and floral patterns can always overcome litigation and frivolity when the fate of American commerce hangs in the balance.


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