Digital music-channel vendor Music Choice is suing Time Warner Inc.’s America Online unit, claiming AOL’s new “My MC” on-demand music-video channel infringes on the Music Choice and My Music Choice brands.
Earlier this month, AOL launched My MC on several Time Warner Cable systems. The on-demand channel features footage from AOL’s concert series and music videos from BMG, Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.
My MC is designed to drive subscriptions to AOL for Broadband.
Time Warner owns a minority stake in Music Choice, which filed the suit against AOL in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Music Choice wants an order blocking AOL from using the “My MC” or “MC” brand, in addition to money damages.
AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham declined to comment on the suit last Wednesday, saying AOL executives hadn’t had a chance to review the complaint.
Music Choice executives said they decided to sue AOL after settlement talks failed to yield a name change.
“We tried to get AOL to change the name to something that frankly had something to do with AOL and not Music Choice, and they were not willing to consider changing the name,” Music Choice CEO Dave Del Becarro said.
Del Becarro’s company owns the trademark for the brand “Music Choice” and also markets a “My Music Choice” audio service — deployed by Mediacom Communications Corp. — which allows digital cable subscribers to create their own playlists.
AOL has trademarked the term “My MC.”
Del Becarro said it was “unfortunate” Music Choice had to sue AOL, a sister company to one of Music Choice’s owners, Time Warner Cable.
“It’s never a good thing to be in a position of suing a partner or a customer, so we’re concerned about the impact this has on our relationships,” he said. “On the other hand this is not Time Warner Cable that has done this — this is AOL, and so we would presume that Time Warner Cable can see that this is an issue that AOL has in essence put them in an awkward position, as much as they’ve put us in an awkward position.”
Music Choice counts 34 million subscribers for its digital audio music service, including 5 million Time Warner Cable homes, Del Becarro said.
Music Choice’s other owners are Microsoft Corp., Motorola Inc., Sony Corp., EMI Music, Adelphia Communications Corp., Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc.