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Corus Entertainment wins ‘power’ battle over broadcasting rival after judge grants injunction on use of radio station name

The new Corus logo inside Corus Quay in Toronto is photographed on Friday, June 22, 2018. .
The new Corus logo inside Corus Quay in Toronto is photographed on Friday, June 22, 2018. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

A temporary injunction being sought by Corus Entertainment — Global News’ parent company — has been granted, which will see an Edmonton radio station no longer be able to use the word “POWER” in its branding and advertising strategies.

The injunction was granted after a Calgary judge ruled Monday that she was “satisfied that the balance of convenience favours granting an interlocutory injunction.”

Corus has been embroiled in a legal battle with Harvard Broadcasting over the POWER 107 name used by Harvard’s FM pop music radio station in Alberta’s capital.

Corus sued the broadcaster in September, claiming Harvard was seeking to capitalize on the POWER 92 moniker, the former name of its FM radio station now known as 92.5 The Chuck.

“I have considered and weighed the fact that Harvard employees involved in the decision to rebrand the 107.1 station to POWER 107 anticipated that listeners from the 1990s and 2000s would remember POWER 92,” Justice Nancy Dilts wrote in her ruling.

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“They designed the POWER 107 logo fully aware of the appearance of the POWER 92 logo — and they investigated the trademark registry and weighed the risks associated with using the POWER name and the POWER 107 logo.”

In the lawsuit it filed in September, Corus also applied for Harvard to cease the use of the POWER 107 name and logo. Corus had argued when Harvard changed its HOT 107 station to POWER 107 in August, it was wrongfully using the reputation of the POWER brand it had built with POWER 92 in Edmonton and with other stations across Canada.

The judge accepted evidence that an on-air announcer for Harvard told listeners “POWER is something that is legendary in Edmonton… I grew up listening to a station that had POWER in the title and our logo kind of reminds me of it” and also used social media messaging that appeared to liken POWER 107 to POWER 92.

“In my view, this evidence is sufficient to establish that POWER 92 was popular, was recognized, was enjoyed by its listeners and is remembered for its logo, its slogan, its contest, its on-air personalities and its music,” Dilts wrote in her ruling.

The judge also noted that prior to the launch of Harvard’s POWER 107, Corus had used references to POWER 92 in its promotions, showing the name has “enduring value.”

Watch below: Some videos about Corus Entertainment. 

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Corus argued Harvard’s use of the name put its ability to use the POWER brand in the future at risk and also claimed the branding used by Harvard violated copyright and trademark laws. Corus also argued the decision by Harvard to use the POWER brand would hurt ratings at The Chuck, a claim the judge indicated she did not believe Corus had sufficiently proven.

In response, Harvard argued it did not believe Corus was entitled to the injunction on the use of the POWER brand because it had not sufficiently proved its copyright and trademark rights.

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Harvard also argued Corus had not proven that it still has “goodwill” based on the POWER 92 brand or that listeners will be confused about who POWER 107 is.

Corus had previously acquired trademarks in the words “POWER 92” and “POWER 107” but both were expunged when they were not renewed in 2015.

As a result of Monday’s ruling, Harvard will need to rebrand POWER 107 by changing its logo, signage, promotions, marketing and on-air messaging. Harvard will also not be allowed to use the POWER 97 “word mark.”

“POWER 92 holds a special place in the hearts of Edmontonians,” read a statement issued by Corus Radio late Monday afternoon. “We are very pleased with the judge’s order for Harvard to stop trading on our brand and history, and to stop using the POWER name and logo.”

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Dilts ruled that Corus and Harvard can provide “written submissions on costs by Jan. 10, 2020 if they cannot otherwise agree” on financial details to settle the lawsuit.

Global News reached out to Harvard for comment on Monday’s ruling. An executive said the broadcasting company would not immediately offer a statement because it was still reviewing the decision.

On Monday evening, a statement on the ruling was sent to listeners of the Harvard-owned radio station.

The statement said the company would not appeal the ruling.

“While we don’t agree with the decision, we will respect it.”

The radio station said it would hold a contest to help it decide on a new name.

You can read the judge’s decision in its entirety below: