American Idol issues cease-and-desist letter over Hoboken's popular 'Sinatra Idol' contest
SUE YA LATER -- "American Idol" has asked Hoboken to stop using the name "Sinatra Idol" for its singing contest, which began in 2009.
According to a press release from the city of Hoboken, the producers of American Idol, the hit TV show that has launched many singing careers, have threatened the city with a lawsuit for copyright infringement over the city's similarly named local competition, Sinatra Idol.
Each year, singers from all over the world come to Sinatra Park on the Hoboken river and enter a singing competition honoring the memory of Frank Sinatra, who was born here.
Sinatra Idol is not televised and does not offer recording contracts, the city noted.
In a Sept. 17 letter to Cultural Affairs Administrator Geri Fallo, a Malibu-based attorney representing the producers of American Idol said their client believes that the use of the word “Idol” for talent competitions “is likely to lead the relevant public to believe that there is some connection or association between SINATRA IDOL and AMERICAN IDOL. This likelihood of confusion is the test for trademark infringement and unfair competition and thus a violation of our client's exclusive and extremely valuable rights."
The city has opened a public survey for residents to suggest a potential new name for the local contest.
“Sinatra Idol is a Hoboken institution, and Sinatra Idol is not going anywhere,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla in a press release. “We must preserve Sinatra Idol, but Hollywood will sue if we don’t change Sinatra Idol’s name. We discussed alternatives like 'The Sinatra Voice' or 'The S Factor,' but we thought it might be best for Hoboken to suggest new names for Sinatra Idol.”
The survey to rename Sinatra Idol will be open until Oct. 9. After that, the Department of Cultural Affairs, which organizes Sinatra Idol every year, will choose and unveil a new name for Sinatra Idol, which is not associated with American Idol.
“It’s important that we stop using the name Sinatra Idol,” said Communications Manager Santiago Melli-Huber. “Some residents may want to Tweet at American Idol, whose Twitter handle is @AmericanIdol, asking them to simply enter into a contract with the city, which we requested and they refused, to allow us to use the name Sinatra Idol for a harmless impersonation contest. But that’s not what they want. They want us to stop saying Sinatra Idol, so let’s respect their lawyers’ whims and not blow up their mentions by Tweeting ‘Sinatra Idol’ to @AmericanIdol.”
You may also not want to tag @hudson_reporter
and link to the nine years' worth of brilliant articles and photos in the Reporter covering this annual event, such as this one from back in 2009
or the many others.
If only the Idols had been reading the Hoboken Reporter, they could have nipped this in the bud. But that's life, that's what people say.