Georgia: AID Atlanta Sues Former Walk Producer

Last month, AID Atlanta filed a lawsuit in federal district court claiming exclusive ownership of the name and logo associated with the AIDS Walk Atlanta. The sponsor and lead beneficiary for the AIDS walk, AID Atlanta paid MZA Events, a for-profit production company, to stage 10 of the 13 previous AIDS walks. But AID Atlanta severed ties with the group in November, requesting proposals from other producers for the 2004 event.

MZA responded to AID Atlanta's action by placing ads in Southern Voice that promoted a future walk, using the name "AIDS Walk Atlanta" and the logo associated with the event. Since the first ad appeared Dec. 12, each organization has repeatedly stated it will produce the 2004 AIDS walk without the other.

AID Atlanta filed its intellectual property suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Dec. 23 in response to a letter MZA sent AID Atlanta on Dec. 16., said AID Atlanta Executive Director Kim Anderson. MZA's cease and desist letter demanded AID Atlanta never use the name "AIDS Walk Atlanta" for any event not produced by MZA, court papers reveal.

AID Atlanta asked the court for a "declaratory judgment" to forbid MZA from using the name or the logo without permission from AID Atlanta.

MZA, which produces AIDS walks in other cities, is concerned that giving AID Atlanta sole rights to the walk's name and logo would damage its reputation, according to MZA attorney Paul Krekorian. Company president Craig Miller contends the logo used for AIDS Walk Atlanta originated with MZA for use in other cities.

AID Atlanta filed an application to trademark "AIDS Walk Atlanta" on Dec. 4 with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. David Shipley, an intellectual property professor at the University of Georgia College of Law, said AID Atlanta has a better chance to win rights to trademark "AIDS Walk Atlanta" than the graphic logo.