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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 5, May 2010, Posted On: 4/11/2010

AMI Sues A&E For Infringing Trademark

by Staff Reporter
AMI Entertainment Network, AMI, Merit Entertainment, Merit Industries, A&E Television Networks, A&E cable network, trademark infringement, Photo Hunt, videogame, video game, touchscreen video game, Megatouch, coin-operated game, coin-op videogame, jukebox, juke box, Harbour Group, The Sopranos, Sopranos Photo Hunt

BRISTOL, PA -- AMI Entertainment Network Inc. has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against A&E Television Networks LLC. It alleges that A&E has been using AMI's trademarked Photo Hunt in connection with network's online videogame based on "The Sopranos," the hit HBO series that ran from 1999 to 2007. The suit was filed March 30 in federal court in Philadelphia.

The suit further charges that the cable TV network has knowingly infringed AMI's trademark on Photo Hunt and that the resulting public confusion between the two companies has caused "great harm" to AMI's reputation. The videogame and jukebox company said that prior to filing suit, it tried and failed to convince A&E to drop the trademark from its website.

The A&E videogame, called The Sopranos Photo Hunt, is available on A&E's website for free play. It's a promotion that showcases the network's repeats of "The Sorpranos." The network is jointly owned by Walt Disney Co., Hearst Corp. and NBC Universal Inc.

Attorneys for AMI have asked the court to force A&E from using the Photo Hunt mark and to pay AMI's attorney fees and litigation costs. AMI is also seeking damages and any profit the network may have generated by infringing. Since the alleged infringement was willful, AMI said, additional damages are in order.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, AMI has employed the Photo Hunt mark for its coin-operated touchscreen videogames since 1997. In its suit, AMI said the trademark on Photo Hunt was registered with the USPTO in 2000, when the company was known as Merit Industries.

Photo Hunt, AMI PHOTO: Photo Hunt is a spot-the-difference game that runs on AMI's Megatouch videogame terminals. Players are shown two photos, side by side, that appear identical with the exception of five differences. The object of the game is to find the differences and touch them on the screen before time runs out. Photo Hunt has been a popular puzzle series on AMI's coin-operated video output game machines for more than a decade. A mobile version is available for iPhones and iPods.

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