Farmer’s Almanac Battles A city Slicker
By David Margolick
The 2 magazines could not be more different. The main one celebrates the rising and establishing for the sun each day and certainly will let you know properly if they happen; one other documents the increase of hemlines as well as the environment of styles. The one has got the fresh atmosphere of Lexington and Concord; the other, at the very least in certain cases, reeks of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Could anyone actually confuse the venerable Old Farmer’s Almanac, which celebrates its 200th anniversary the following year, and ny magazine, a child associated with the 1960’s?
For one week earlier this thirty days, theyarguably could have. And therein lies a lawsuit.
Regarding the address of its annual xmas gift ideas issue, dated Dec. 3, nyc mimicked the almanac’s distinctive front, filled with its familiar yellow color, antiquated typography, rococo scroll work, cameos and cartouches. The magazine also acknowledged its financial obligation, only if esthetically. «Design prompted by the original Farmer’s Almanac,» it claimed near the table of contents. ‘Valuable G d Will’ at Issue
Unappeased and unimpressed, attorneys for Yankee Publishing Inc. of Dublin, N.H., publishers associated with the almanac, went along to Federal District Court in Manhattan yesterday and sued Information America Publishing Inc., New York mag’s parent company, for trademark infringement. It’s an odd contest, one pitting 18th-century brand New England against the 21st-century megalopolis and the almanac’s president, one Joseph B. Meagher, against one Rupert Murdoch, whom heads Information America.
By expropriating the almanac’s distinctive motifs, its lawyers charged, ny had effectively stolen its «valuable g d might.»
Manufacturers of a host of products which would fit well into Leon Leonw d Bean’s bathr m or your kitchen on Mrs. Pepperidge’s farm — ironing board covers, spice containers, calendars, kitchen area towels and placemats — had covered the privilege of utilizing the almanac’s cover, the solicitors said, therefore, t , should the mag.
The similarities, almanac officials said, could lead some visitors to confuse the 2 magazines. They contended that any affiliation with ny, which published exactly what it described as «ophisticated material of a stylish nature,» could tarnish a b bgclive k that purveyed «folksy product of perennial interest, tales of reality and fancy, interesting dishes and ads for homespun services and products.» Research in Contrasts
In place of its typical ads for w dworking patterns, tomato flowers and potions for sinusitis, nail fungus and tiredness, almanac readers would have found pitches for Estee Lauder, Fortunoff’s and Saab. The nutritious almanac shuns all alcohol or tobacco advertisements; the Dec. 3 problem of New York touted Virginia Slims and a $2,500 bottle of Glenfiddich scotch.
The almanac’s personals listings love psychics and evangelists; ny’s personals that week showcased «Gay feminine psychotherapist l king for Nirvana» and «Brainy pretty klutz seeks endearing brilliant clod.»
«we could see some individuals picking it up and saying ‘Boy, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is wanting to go contemporary here,» said Judson D. Hale, the almanac’s 12th editor since 1792 ( and also the nephew associated with 11th). Absolutely Nothing, he stressed, could be more untrue.
«we are out of the cycle here,» he said. » just What’s ‘hot’ here could be the soup in the united kingdom shop d r that is next but that’s about any of it.» Defendant Sees No Damage
An attorney for New York magazine dismissed the actual situation as being a big-city style of hit suit — a chance to produce a buck that is fast court. «no body taking a l k at this thing would think it absolutely was the Farmer’s Almanac,» said Robert W. Fiddler of Fiddler & Levine in ny. He belittled the idea that the almanac was indeed hurt. «If anything, they truly are improved by virtue associated with publicity given them,» he stated.
The two covers do contain differences that are significant. Where «by Robert B. Thomas» appears on the initial — a reference to the creator of the original almanac — «by Corky Pollan» — a contributing editor at ny — appeared in its place. The original portraits of Mr. Thomas and Benjamin Franklin yielded to Saint Nicholas and their wife. As well as in lieu of «also featuring astronomical tables, tides, holidays, eclipses, etc.» are the terms «210 presents for the flush and the broke, the sober as well as the silly, the vile while the virtuous.»
The magazine cover also lacked a gap in its top corner that is lefthand from where generations of New Englanders, real and ersatz, hung the b k in device sheds and br m closets. And the nyc version lacked the almanac’s (R), denoting that its address is trademarked. ‘Simply Flabbergasted’
The lawsuit originated in Grand Central Terminal, once the almanac’s trademark lawyer, William M. Borchard of Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, spotted the magazine at a newsstand. He straight away notified Mr. Meagher and Mr. Hale. He then had written News America to express he was «simply flabbergasted» in what he’d simply seen. «You are purposely and willfully trying to profit from the commercial magnetism for the The Old Farmer’s Almanac,» he penned.
Whenever speaks with Mr. Fiddler proved unavailing, the almanac sued, apparently unconcerned that such litigiousness would have made Robert Frost frown. » I don’t think they are that old-fashioned,» Mr. Borchard said of their clients. «Besides, courts have actually existed so long as the united states has existed.»
Mr. Hale stated that apart from licensing legal rights, rural pride was at stake. He stated he was unwilling to let city slickers pull a fast one on perceived hayseeds. He also reported that his venerable b k — which already deemed itself old sufficient in 1832 to include the adjective to its name — have been ill-used by an magazine that is upstart to appear «cutesy» using a 140-year-old design 1 week before moving forward to Robert Redford and Bret Easton Ellis the following two weeks.
Making issues worse, at the least from Mr. Hale’s viewpoint, the mag don’t even recommend the almanac being a Christmas time present. At $2.50 a duplicate, that’s $5.50 lower than the pizza glove, $132.50 less than the lightweight neon bushwacker and $447.50 lower than the Bergdorf br ch it did recommend.
«Maybe they think the Old Farmer’s Almanac is merely section of America, just like the Statue of Liberty,» said Mr. Hale. » That’s a sentiment that is nice but we’ll nevertheless sue the hell out of them.»