Radio station seeks injunction against competitor over use of Phrase

Tuesday, July 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Two Tulsa radio stations aren't leaving it up listeners to decide who plays "today's best music." Renda Broadcasting Corp., which operates KHTT FM 106.9, on Monday sued Clear Channel Communications Inc., the operator of KIZSFM 92.1, in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.

KHTT, or K-HITS, alleges that its competitor has been using the phrase "today's best music" even though Renda claims that it received a trademark on the phrase in 1999 and has been using it in its promotions since 1996. KHTT has requested a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against 92.1 KISS-FM.

Rick Cohn, KIZS Vice President and General Manager said Monday his station has no plans to change anything and that K-HITS has no exclusive right to the phrase. "We feel that the phrase is generic and broad," Cohn said. KHTT said that on Oct. 7, 1999, it received a "Certificate of Trademark Registration" from the Oklahoma secretary of state. General Manager Pat Bryson claimed in an affidavit that since 1996,Renda has spent more than $320,000 on advertising alone and another $200,000 in prizes in connection with the phrase and the accompanying "Phrase that Pays" promotion.

In this campaign, if KHTT contacts a listener by telephone and that listener immediately responds, "106.9 K-HITS means `Today's Best Music.' Now give me my money," then that listener receives $1,000. Renda discovered July 10 that 92.1 KISS-FM was claiming in an advertising campaign that it "plays all of today's best music, and not just some of it," the lawsuit states. KHTT sent a "cease and desist" demand to Clear Channel, which replied to its rival in a letter written on company stationery. In part, the letter read: "Any idiot with $50 can register a generic phrase. Sorry you lost your $50. We think your usage of the phrase is false advertising. Your music sucks and we're playing ALL OF TODAY'S BEST MUSIC AND NOT JUST SOME OF IT."

Cohn said Monday that he did not write the letter but said it was a "competitive tactic" that was written with a "sense of humor."