Village Voice Media Goes After Yelp For “Best Of” Trademark Infringement

October 26, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Nationwide alt-weekly publisher Village Voice Media Holdings LLC sued Yelp Inc. on Thursday alleging the local listings and ratings website is infringing the publisher’s trademarks for the “Best Of” various cities features it runs in its newspapers.

In September the publisher became aware that Yelp was using its registered “Best Of” trademarks on its web pages featuring establishments and events similar to those Village Voice Media uses for its own editions, according to its complaint in Arizona federal court. Yelp has refused to cease use of the trademarks despite being put on notice by Village Voice Media, and continues to infringe the trademarks, it says.

“Yelp has knowledge and notice of VVMH’s rights, goodwill and valuable reputation in and to its registered marks and its “Best Of” marks, but Yelp continues to use such marks for the purpose of taking advantage of VVMH’s goodwill and valuable reputation,” the complaint says.

Yelp sells advertising on the web pages containing the Village Voice Media trademarks, and so is illegally profiting off of its infringement, according to the publisher.

Village Voice Media has for many years published annual editions of its papers in the many cities where it has media outlets, in which specific enterprises or events are identified in the best of various categories ranging from types of restaurants to entertainment to shopping and more. The categories and winners become part of the publications’ websites and are accessible throughout the year.

The company prints a significant number of extra copies of its “Best Of” edition newspapers because of the high demand for that information, and receives many hits on its websites for the edition’s features, “reflecting both a significant demand for the knowledge contained therein and a recognition of the content of the ‘Best Of’ sites,” the complaint says.

Village Voice Media owns and licenses to its appropriate subsidiaries a range of federally registered service trademarks, including “Best of Dallas,” “Best of Miami,” “Best of Phoenix,” and many more. All of the registrations cover conducting incentive award programs to promote the business of local retail establishments through the demonstration of excellence in customer service and quality of products or services, it says.