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Fledgling Annapolis Business Journal faces trademark infringement lawsuit


The Annapolis Business Journal, a free monthly tabloid geared toward the local business community, will premier next month.

But the debut may not be free of glitches.

The Baltimore Business Journal, which is not affiliated with the Annapolis effort or two similarly named papers in Howard County, filed suit Friday in U.S District Court, claiming an infringement of trademark.

The suit claims the words "Business Journal" belong to the Baltimore trade weekly.

Robert W. Burdon, president and publisher of the Baltimore Business Journal, said he could not comment. His lawyer, David Williams, could not be reached for comment.

The owner and publisher of the Annapolis newspaper and the two in Howard County blamed the lawsuit on jealousy, saying the Baltimore Business Journal had hoped to crack the markets he has.

"It seems odd to me that they would wait eight months and start complaining," said Edward G. Pickett.

Mr. Pickett, who started the Columbia Business Journal and the Howard County Business Journal less than a year ago, said the Baltimore newspaper even did a

story on the debut of the Columbia publication.

Mr. Pickett said the only thing his journals have in common with the Baltimore publication is the last two words of the publication title.

"We certainly believe we have the right to use the name and are proceeding accordingly," Mr. Pickett said. "What's the worst that can happen? If we go to court and the judge says we've got to change the name, we'll have to change the name. But it won't put us out of business."

He has not hired a lawyer yet and says he may not.

"What they would like to do is cost me a lot of time and money," Mr. Pickett said, adding that he'd rather concentrate on putting out a quality publication.

The Annapolis Business Journal, which has offices on Severn Avenue in Eastport, is scheduled to come out the second week of September. Copies of the 48-page paper will be delivered to more than 5,000 businesses in the Annapolis area, said Carole Dennison, advertising director. It also will be distributed at banks, restaurants and commercial buildings.

People in the Annapolis business community often describe the area as having a lot of mom-and-pop operations, Ms. Dennison said. "But there is a lot of money in Annapolis."

Mr. Pickett, 53, was a reporter for The Sun for about eight years in the 1960s, before he headed to Vermont, where he lived for about 25 years. He worked on weekly newspapers and specialty publications, including a ski racing magazine, which he owned for several years.

Those experiences will be tested as he tries to crack the local market.

The Annapolis Business Journal, "in many ways, is a hometown newspaper for the business community," Mr. Pickett said.

His wife, Carole L. Pickett, is advertising director of the Columbia journal. His daughter, Sandra, will write for the Annapolis publication.

The Annapolis newspaper, which expects a monthly circulation of about 20,000, will not have a regular staff. It will depend upon local free-lance writers and on business people to contribute articles of wide interest about their industries.

Both Mr. Pickett and Ms. Dennison have been pounding the pavement and going to Chamber of Commerce functions to let the Greater Annapolis area know the journal is coming.

"My job is to go out and grab them and bring them in," said Ms. Dennison.

"I don't know how quickly this will grow, but it's here to stay," Mr. Pickett said.

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