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Academy Directs Oscarwatch To Change Name

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, home of Oscar and the Academy Awards, has been cracking hard on blogs using the Oscar name; until this year, they had left Sasha Stone of Oscarwatch.com alone.

That changed on January 22nd. Sasha provided WebProNews with a copy of the letter she received from the Academy, accusing her of infringement on the Oscar mark. The legalese is as accusatory as one might suspect:

In light of the strength of the Academy’s mark and the fact that you have no intellectual property rights, no right to use the domain name commercially, and its use is likely to confuse visitors searching the Academy’s site, it is likely that a court would find that OSCARWATCH.COM was registered with a bad faith intent to profit.

Sasha told us that she has been running Oscarwatch since 1999, which practically makes her a pioneer on the Web. She registered the site on December 2nd, 1999, a few weeks ahead of the red carpeted event.

“Mine has always been the most popular on the Oscars and in fact started the trend of “Oscar watching” on the web, which is, monitoring the awards race from the beginning of the year onward,” she said. “Mainstream media even got in on the act two years ago.”

USA Today uses the phrase “Oscar Watch” prominently on a dedicated page in its Life section online. AOL’s Cinematical blog has an Oscar Watch section too.

Sasha has probably just fallen into the penumbra of legal necessity to protect a trademark. Considering how the Academy kept its distance, and also sent her a polite letter separately from the more formal legal notice, they are playing things safe.

It’s likely Oscarwatch.com will change names, and Sasha seems resigned to that. “I will see where I stand legally but if I have to change it, I’ll keep calling it Oscarwatch but I’ll change the domain name to something like ‘awardsdaily’ or ‘kudoswatch’,” she said.

“I don’t want to hassle the Academy; I see where they’re coming from. I just want to be able to get through this Oscar season and then deal with it.”


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Academy Directs Oscarwatch To Change Name
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