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Q101 Owner Sues Q87.7 Owner Over Trademark Infringement

Broadcast Barter Radio Networks (BBRN), the owner of Q101 and all its related properties, has filed suit against Merlin Media, LLC, the operator of WLFM-LP/Q87.7, for trademark infringement.

Last Summer, Emmis Communications decided to end the Alternative Rock formated Q101 on WKQX-FM 101.1 and sell the station to Merlin Media, LLC, who promptly changed formats and call letters for the station. The Chicagoland-based BBRN then purchased Q101, along with all related intellectual property and social media assets from Emmis Communications. BBRN owns the Q101 name, the Q101 logos and images, 19 years of recordings, 19 years of promotional materials, the online Q101 Club database, and perhaps biggest of all, the website Q101.com. Anything and everything Q101-related is owned and cared for by BBRN -- even Robert Murphy's straight jacket from the old Q101 commercials. Merlin Media did not choose to purchase any of these physical or intellectual materials when they agreed to purchase WKQX-FM and two other stations from Emmis Communications in June 2011.

Q101 has been living online at Q101.com ever since the sale to BBRN and greatly increased its fan database. It can also be heard at times on WJJG-AM, as of the late afternoon of May 6th.

Also on May 6th, an hour after WJJG-AM began playing Q101 music, Merlin Media launched Q87.7 on WLFM-LP, which they were allowed to operate via a Limited Marketing Agreement with the station's owner, Venture Technologies Group, LLC. They also then changed the station's call letters to WKQX-LP.

With the Merlin Media-operated station now using Q101's radio call letters, programming nearly identical music as Q101, it using slogans/imaging similar to what Q101 uses/used, building the station's branding around the letter "Q" just like Q101 did, and using a stenciled letter Q similar to an old Q101 logo, BBRN felt that this was done on purpose to attract and perhaps even fool Q101 fans into tuning in to that station, which BBRN has nothing to do with. BBRN representatives immediately contacted Merlin Media about the Q87.7 situation and let them known that Merlin Media would be infringing upon their trademark by these tactics. Merlin Media disagreed with that assessment.

BBRN had no choice but to bring suit in the courts against Merlin Media to protect their trademarks and property.

Representatives of Merlin Media, LLC have not yet publicly commented on the lawsuit.


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