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Tops Appliance to Settle Dispute on Putting Wiz Trademark in Bathrooms

March 1, 1994

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ An electronics chain, angered that its name was being displayed in the urinals of a competitor, took the dispute out of the bathroom and into federal court.

But lawyers for both retailers said Monday they expect to settle the lawsuit.

The charges of trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade disparagement, libel and defamation were brought by The Wiz, a chain of more than 50 stores operating in the Northeast.

It claimed that most stores of the Edison, N.J.-based Tops Appliance City chain ″embarked on actions intended to denigrate, disparage, dilute and place in disrepute the famous, incontestable The Wiz mark,″ according to the lawsuit.

How?

By putting the Wiz logo so it is ″prominently displayed to one urinating into the urinal and onto the urinal splash guards.″ Tops operates in the New York metropolitan area.

The Wiz said it wrote to Tops chief executive officer Leslie Turchin Jan. 26 asking that its name be removed, noting the ″tastelessness and unprofessionalism of such a gesture, and also alleging trademark violations.

No reply came, and the suit was filed in U.S. District Court Feb. 17.

Tops was advised of the filing, but The Wiz held back serving the papers in order to provide time for a settlement, said Wiz lawyer Bruce H. Sales.

″That tactic did indeed get a very quick and meaningful response,″ Sales said Monday. ″The infringing problem is going to be taken care of.″

A lawyer for Tops, Allen Ravin, agreed a settlement is near. ″We’re pretty close,″ he said.

Both declined to discuss specifics of the agreement until the deal is final.

Turchin’s office wouldn’t comment on the dispute, referring calls to Ravin.

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