A trial over who owns the name Valencia began Wednesday in U.S. District Court, with the Santa Clarita Valley's largest developer charging a neighboring builder of copyright infringement.
The Newhall Land & Farming Co. alleges that G.H. Palmer and Associates illegally used the name of the ancient Spanish town in 1984, when they opened their Valencia Village Apartments.
Since then, Palmer has built the Valencia Vista Condominiums and the Valencia Terrace Apartments, all of which are located in Newhall.
Newhall Land & Farming copyrighted the name Valencia in the early 1970s, using it for its giant master-planned community that runs through much of the valley.
"We have spent 28 years bringing a special meaning to the name Valencia ," said Marlee Laufer, spokeswoman for the developer.
"It creates confusion for people who are not familiar with the Santa Clarita Valley and also for people who live in Valencia . . . to have a project just down the road that is not related to us using the same name."
An attorney for Palmer contended that no such confusion has ever existed and that the Palmer projects in no way resemble those of Newhall Land & Farming.
"The essence of the case is whether there is likelihood of confusion by my client's use of the name," said Paul Hittelman, Palmer's attorney. "We claim that there is no possibility of confusion."