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Who Is Scrooge in HSN-QVC Fight Over 'Christmas in July' Slogan?"

31 May, 2006 Response This Week

WEST CHESTER, Pa. and ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – If you Google the phrase “Christmas in July,” you’d get more than 484,000 results, including notes about a 1940 feature film with the name. The phrase is oft used and unlikely to bring up many negative thoughts.

Unless, of course, you work for leading TV retailers QVC and HSN. The home shopping giants are currently embroiled in a nasty legal fight in a Philadelphia U.S. District Court over which company holds the rights to use the phrase as a name for promotional purposes.

According to an Associated Press (AP) report, No. 1 TV shopping network QVC argues that it started its “Christmas in July” program in 1987. However, No. 2 HSN took the name to the U.S. Patent office first – in 2000 – and contends it owns the trademark for promotional purposes. QVC lawyer Manny Pokotilow tells AP the company believes it had a “common-law trademark” for using and promoting the name, even if it never registered it.

“We assume that there may have been actual confusion, that someone assumed they were dealing with QVC. The question is whether or not there have been damages. We don’t know,” adds Pokotilow.

HSN began the firefight in 2005 when it sent QVC a cease-and-desist letter regarding use of “Christmas in July.” According to the report, though, HSN now argues neither side can truly lay claim to the phrase. HSN lawyer Edward Colbert tells AP, “A search on Google will turn up many references to ‘Christmas in July.’ We don’t know the basis on which QVC is claiming complete and exclusive rights.”

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