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NYT Lets Go of Trademark Lawsuit Against Time Magazine

Kali Hays
·3 min read

The New York Times is moving on from a legal challenge to Time over its Time 100 Talks events.

The major news outlet last week agreed to dismiss a lawsuit it launched in November, challenging Time’s legal right to the name of its new event series. The two sides came to a settlement agreement in which The Times dismissed its case with prejudice, meaning it cannot resume its claims in the future.

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Although specifics of the settlement were not disclosed, it seems Time is still using the Time 100 Talks title for its series of virtual events (for now, at least) launched in April 2020, billed as its “first ever” virtual event series featuring experts and public figures. A representative of Time declined to comment on the settlement or whether the title of its events will be affected. A representative of The Times could not be reached.

When The Times late last year filed its lawsuit, it claimed that Time’s new event series was a clear infringement on the “Times Talks” events, which The Times has been hosting, featuring various notables and experts since 1999. And it has three registered trademarks going back several years covering the title and various uses of the title. The infringement of Time’s event name is so clear, according to The Times, that a registrar with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office even rejected Time’s application to trademark “Time 100 Talks,” citing its closeness to The Times’ already existing marks.

“As a direct competitor of [The New York Times] that was surely familiar with its Times Talks trademark and its registrations for the mark, Time could have selected any number of less confusing trademarks for its event series,” The Times wrote in its complaint.

Instead of “talks,” The Times said Time could have chosen to use “speaks,” “discussions” or “chats,” but instead selected a “nearly identical” title to The Times’ series.

“Confusion between the marks is inevitable as persons are likely to mistakenly believe Time’s Time 100 Talks events and presentations are affiliated with The NYT’s Times Talks or are otherwise NYT-endorsed programs,” The Times argued. “Significant confusion is also likely to result in online contexts.”

The newspaper added that it reached out to Time before filing its lawsuit with “several” cease and desist requests, which the magazine “rejected.” Time never formally responded in court to the lawsuit.

Nevertheless, the outlets managed to reach some kind of an arrangement in February, leading The Times to agree to dismiss its claims. The Times still has full rights to its “Talks” trademarks, but Time still seems to be making full use of its own “Talks” events, with new videos on the site put up as recently as Feb. 26, and most Fridays before that.

The 26th was the same day the dismissal order came down in court, however, so it could be that the name of the Time event will be changed going forward, or that The Times agreed to allow Time to continue using or license the name.

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