24-10-2007

MTV sues MTV over use of brand (update)

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Hungary's public broadcaster, Magyar Televizio (mtv, www.mtv.hu), has filed suit with the country's Supreme Court against Music Television, seeking exclusive use of the MTV brand after the latter debuted its Hungarian-language music channel on Oct. 1

In a statement the channel's president, Zoltan Rudi, said the suit is claiming patent infringement..

Magyar Televizio has used the MTV acronym since its inception in 1956, while the music channel (www.mtv.com), owned by Viacom, has used the same initials since 1981.

Magyar Televizio claims its abbreviation is patented until 2013, and no one else is authorized to use it in the domestic market because it causes confusion among viewers.

In fact, Magyar Televizio's two channels have been branded as m1 and m2 in the last few years. Even its MTV brand is patented in small letters (mtv), as opposed to the Music Television's capital letters (MTV), the Hungarian Patent Office said according to the newspaper Nepszabadsag. The two acronyms are also pronounced differently.

Music Television is present in 145 countries around the world. No similar suit has been filed against their logo elsewhere.

If the high court were to rule in favor of Magyar Televizio, the Hungarian broadcaster can demand not only the removal of the brand from MTV's broadcast, but financial compenasation as well.

Rudi has been credited for turning around Magyar Televizio, previously a money-losing entity. Between 1997 and 2003 the state broadcaster accumulated a 46 billion forint deficit. Under Rudi's helm, the restructured MTV stopped losing money in 2005. The following year MTV generated 341 million profit profit which equals one percent of its budget, however the channel is still unable to produce original programming (TV-movies and animation) due to the lack of funds.

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Meanwhile, the board of the public foundation that governs Magyar Televizio has voted unanimously to announce a call for applications to fill the broadcaster's top job. Since the media law was implemented in 1995, Rudi has been the only person to stay at the helm for the full four-year term. All six other presidents since 1995 resigned less than halfway through their terms.