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Village Voice To Weeklys: Drop Name

March 6, 1998

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ The Village Voice in New York has asked two alternative weeklys in the Midwest to drop the word ``voice″ from their names.

``We must insist that you cease using our VOICE mark and name,″ attorney Sherri Felt Dratfield wrote in a Feb. 17 letter to Marrianne McMullen and Jeff Epton, co-publishers of The Dayton Voice, a 4-year-old newspaper.

Ten days later, Ms. Dratfield wrote again, asking why The Dayton Voice had not been in touch.

Ms. McMullen and Epton wrote back to Ms. Dratfield.

``It can hardly have been the purpose of the law to allow you or any others to interfere with the conduct of business that does you no harm,″ they wrote. ``Is it possible your employer does not know how you are spending your time?″

The Village Voice is not limiting its objections to The Dayton Voice. Last week in Indiana, it filed a federal trademark-infringement lawsuit against the publishers of The Bloomington Voice, another alternative weekly.

That clash began six years ago, after a Village Voice employee wore a Bloomington Voice T-shirt to a staff meeting.

Bob Raskopf, a lawyer for The Village Voice, said the newspaper must protect its trademark.

``If we didn’t take a stand, over time, the mark would be diluted beyond recognition,″ he said. ``You have to protect your brand, just like McDonald’s does and Coke does and everybody else does.″

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