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Magazine Ratchets Up Its Battle Over 'Best of L.A.' Label

July 29, 2000|BOB POOL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Charging that a Westside promoter didn't try his best to pick a new name for a controversial "Best of L.A." festival last weekend, Los Angeles magazine has stepped up its fight over rights to the designation.

The magazine won a preliminary injunction Friday against promoter Howard Mauskopf ordering him to stop using the "Best of" name until its ownership is decided in court.

A lawyer for the magazine said the publication also plans to take Mauskopf to court in September on a contempt-of-court charge saying that he violated a restraining order that barred calling last weekend's event the "Best of L.A." festival.

The magazine contends that it owns the trademark to "Best of L.A." But Mauskopf says that he coined the name six years ago and that the magazine registered it behind his back.

Mauskopf also says that he organized and operated annual "Best of L.A." festivals for the last four years and that the magazine's involvement in the event was solely as a listed "sponsor."

But the magazine says it terminated its relationship with Mauskopf after the 1999 "Best of L.A." festival because of concerns over the quality of the event--which was held that year in the parking lot of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium instead of at Universal City, where it had previously been staged.

When the magazine learned that Mauskopf was planning another "Best of L.A." festival at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, it obtained a temporary restraining order July 7, blocking his use of the name.

On the eve of last weekend's festival, Mauskopf said he had dropped the "Best of" name, calling the event instead "The Best Is Back" and "In All of L.A. There's Only One Best."

But the magazine says that references to "Best of L.A." abounded during the festival, both at the Santa Monica site and in radio and television coverage of the event.

"The magazine is very concerned. It received many reports, and one of its staff members who went to the festival saw that the 'Best of L.A.' mark was being used throughout the festival," James Nguyen, a lawyer for the publication, said Friday.

Nguyen said the magazine received reports that "the festival was not as successful as previous ones have been."

Mauskopf said Friday that attendance figures were not complete but that "the event was fairly successful. We had great music. The fashion show went over very well. I figure we were up 10% to 12% in attendance."

Taking a swipe at the magazine, Mauskopf cited repeated changes in management at the monthly publication. Because of that, he said, he has been thwarted in tracking down magazine executives who were involved in its initial sponsorship of the "Best of L.A." festival and can attest to its limited role in the event.

He said that he is lining up "expert counsel" to help with the trademark fight but that as a fallback position, he's picking a new name for next year's event.

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