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ICB Toll Free (800/888) News by: Judith Oppenheimer, Publisher, ICB Toll Free (800/888) News
Wednesday September 16 1998 at 04:7:54 PM EST

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME ...

In a regulatory environment where the FCC has ruled that user-interest-in-vanity number-issues should be addressed by the courts under the trademark protection laws, and furthermore, where the Commission's own regulations prohibit the free market from resolving these concerns, 1 800 FLOWERS goes to court.

San Fernando, CA US - (ICB TOLL FREE NEWS) Cyndy Segura of Flower Star, a three year old gift and flower company, had no idea what a land mine she was stepping into when she advertised her toll free number, 1 800 FLOWER-2. She added her bold fluorescent fuscia and yellow Flower Star logo above it, and added the numeric number below it.

On Valentines Day ‘98, a law suit was delivered from a multi-million dollar corporate competitor that alleged she was infringing on their trademark by using the word “flower” in her toll free number. “There are countless florists that are utilizing the word ‘flower’ in their phone number. I could have just changed the number, but what about the other florists? I didn’t set out to be an example, but since I’m in this position I can’t back down. I have an obligation to my industry,” says Cyndy.

The corporate competitor - 1 800 FLOWERS - has not been afraid to leverage its power with Cyndy’s infant venture. According to Segura, they’ve made outlandish demands such as asking to see Flower Stars’ past, present and future confidential advertising and marketing strategies, and insisting the deposition take place during the Mother’s Day holiday!

The trial is set for October 1, 1998, where Cyndy will fight for florists’ right to use the word ‘flower’ in their advertising. Energized by the David-and-Goliath challenge, she’s determined to win.

Losing the judges ruling would mean the competitor could contact each florist with the advertised word ‘flower’ and serve them a lawsuit that could potentially put them out of business. I can’t express the urgency of this situation, it could really change the industry.”

Segura notes that currently, if you want to advertise anything with the word ‘flower’ in it on America Online, you can’t.

In a regulatory environment where the FCC has ruled that user-interest-in-vanity number-issues should be addressed by the courts under the trademark protection laws, and furthermore, where the Commission's own regulations prohibit the free market from resolving these concerns, we’ll all see 1 800 FLOWERS in court.

Author/Correspondent's Profile: Judith Oppenheimer, Publisher, ICB Toll Free (800/888) News


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