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269 Magazine to continue, under license from Discover Kalamazoo, ending trademark dispute

269 Magazine Cover Holiday 2017.JPG

Under the agreement settling dueling lawsuits over 269 as a trademark, Discover Kalamazoo will continue to seek ownership of the mark. And Southwest Michigan First, publisher of “269 Magazine,” will continue to use those numbers “under license from Discover Kalamazoo.”

Both organizations have now signed the settlement agreement that ends their legal fight in federal court, according to multiple documents on the case. The two parties had announced Jan. 11 that a settlement had been reached. And Southwest Michigan First has posted on the magazines's website that "The mark 269 is used under license from Discover Kalamazoo."

It was the publication of the magazine title “269” that put the dispute before a federal judge in April 2017, when Discover Kalamazoo claimed the title - a use of the region’s telephone area code - was a trademark infringement. Discover Kalamazoo, which serves as a marketing arm for the Kalamazoo County Convention and Visitors Bureau, argued that it has been using 269 as a logo and marketing tool since 2010 and that the bureau spent considerable resources developing it as a brand. That use included an annual publication of "269 Things To Do in Area Code 269." Plus, Discover Kalamazoo already had applied for 269 trademark ownership.

In early 2016, the Southwest Michigan First Corporation, an economic development organization, began using 269 as the title for its regional, bi-monthly magazine, but had in late 2015 filed an application to register the mark, 269 Magazine, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

According to the patent and trademark office documents, Discover Kalamazoo filed for the 269 trademark Dec. 5, 2015; and Southwest Michigan First filed for the 269 Magazine" trademark Dec. 22, 2015. Discover Kalamazoo's "269 Things To Do In 269" had been registered with the federal office since February 2014.

Under the agreement reached by the two organizations, Southwest Michigan First is abandoning its effort for a trademark for the magazine name, and will instead note that 269 is used under license from Discover Kalamazoo. Future magazines will no longer have the TM trademark emblem on the cover.

Southwest Michigan also dropped its opposition to Discover Kalamazoo continuing efforts to fully obtain the trademark. According to the U.S. Patent Office, that opposition was dropped Jan. 12, 2018.

Both federal lawsuits over the issue also have been dropped.

In the Jan. 11, 2018 announcement, the two organizations said they “have resolved their trademark dispute to their mutual satisfaction, in a manner that respects the missions of both organizations.” The announcement was signed by Greg Ayers, president and chief executive officer of Discover Kalamazoo and Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First Corporation.

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