Intellectual property disputes can get into some pretty heavy subjects. For example, copyright and patent disputes often hinge on philosophical questions about what it means to create something out of nothing. But a recent dispute concerning a well-known New York media company is about nothing less than the nature of virtue and vice. To be specific, it’s about Vice Media, the growing media company, and Virtue Marketing, a smaller company.

Vice Media has taken Virtue Marketing to court, alleging that the marketing company has violated its trademark and is engaging in unfair competition. According to Vice’s complaint, the media company’s own in-house marketing service is known as Virtue.

Virtue Marketing has argued that Vice never registered the trademark Virtue for marketing services and so the name should be free. However, Vice claims that, registration or not, it had been using the name “Virtue” for its marketing services since 2006, long before the other company started using the name Virtue Marketing. Vice claims that its prior use gives it common-law rights to prevent others from using the name Virtue in the marketing business.

While this case is easy to joke about, at heart it’s a business matter with a lot of money on the line. Most trademark disputes are the same way. Companies invest a lot of money and effort into building their reputations and generating goodwill from customers and clients. They don’t want to see all that work go toward building someone else’s business. New York intellectual property attorneys can help businesses to protect themselves.

Source: Hollywood Reporter, “Vice v. Virtue: Best Trademark Lawsuit Ever?” Eriq Gardner, June 3, 2015