Chattanooga won't fight 'Chattanoogaville' trademark

Chattanooga won't fight 'Chattanoogaville' trademark

August 10th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

Richard Beeland, media relations director for the mayor's office, in this file photo.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

FACEBOOK COMMENTS

Fifty-nine comments have appeared on the Times Free Press Facebook page since it was announced that the reality show "Chattanoogaville" would soon start production. A sampling of comments include:

* "There are amazing film clubs and small film productions for our music scene that go unnoticed and passed over for reality television. Support our community with art and film projects before we let the reality shows move in and destroy Chattanooga's real appeal." -- Austen Mason

* "The city 'leaders' should sue to keep this from happening. Pathetic." -- Brenda Whiting

* "This is an insult to every Chattanoogan, regardless of political affiliation. Our city is far too complex to be summed up that way, and that's why I love living here!" -- Sarah Prince

POLL: Are you against the Chattanoogaville?

Chattanooga does not plan on standing up to reality show "Chattanoogaville" at this point.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said he thinks the city has bigger priorities than taking on a reality show that could use the city's name in an upcoming tea party-centered reality show.

"I don't think it's worth putting that much time in," Beeland said. "It will live and die on its own merit."

On the TV show, tea partyers travel around the United States, confronting Republican and Democratic politicians about conservative values.

Melanie Tipton, producer of the show, said Chattanoogaville is a made-up name, chosen because she believes it helps show American small-town values.

"We are not going to take video shots of Chattanooga and make the town look like hillbillies," Tipton said in an explanation she wrote on the Times Free Press Facebook page. "I was born and raised in Chattanooga and I'm proud of the city and we will never make this wonderful place look bad."

If there were any shots of Chattanooga, it will be of the surrounding mountains, people going to church or people hanging out, she said.

"The video shots will represent small-town America in a very classy and respectful way," she said.

Tipton said she also thought it was funny that Littlefield's office made statements against the show, noting that the tea party and Littlefield have butted heads in the past.

"We all laughed at his statement," she said. "As we all know ... the Chattanooga Tea Party and a couple more political organizations are the ones responsible for the recall to remove Littlefield out of office."

Since the announcement of the show, there has been something of a Facebook-based uproar about a show using the name Chattanooga as a way to promote tea party politics.

"Whaaaaa????" one reader wrote on the Times Free Press Facebook page. "Can this be stopped?"

"If I was the city, I would go after them with every bit of legal action possible and I HATE anything dealing with litigation!" wrote Dusty L. Allison.

But there also are a small number of supporters for the show.

"Finally, a chance for Chattanooga to show her stuff on the big stage. Well done Chattanooga," wrote Bob Probasco.

A records search shows Tipton is attempting to trademark the name "Chattanoogaville" through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Tipton filed for the trademark in February and the Chattanoogaville name is now in the "published for opposition" stage.

Eric Atkisson, spokesman for the USPTO, said any person who believes he may be damaged by an impending trademark can file an opposition for a $300 fee.

"The opposer must show that he or she has a 'real interest' in the proceeding and a 'reasonable basis' for believing that he or she would suffer damage if the mark registers," Atkisson said.

There is precedence of governments opposing trademarks. In 2009, officials with Ohio voiced opposition to the trademarking of the name "Ohio Rocks" because they had planned to use it on a license plate, according to media reports.

The owner of an indie rock webzine with the same name scooped it up after hearing about the plans. Ohio eventually backed off its protest and used "Ohio Rocks!" with an exclamation point.

Beeland said he did not think the same thing would happen here and, if it does, it would have to be a City Council decision.

Councilwoman Pam Ladd said she thinks the city should keep monitoring the progress of the TV show, but added that she does not think the program is "viable."

"I think in the long run they'll be a failure," she said.