CNN Sues Haiti Live Networks Over Use of “HLN” Mark
CNN claims that Haiti Live Networks, a company offering broadcast radio and television programming to Haitian communities, has been infringing upon CNN’s “HLN” mark. CNN initially began the “Headline News” service in 1982 and began using the HLN mark for the programming in 2008. In the complaint, CNN claims that HLN used its mark to intentionally confuse and trick people into thinking that Haiti Live Networks was affiliated with CNN. By claiming intentional infringement, CNN is able to request triple the normal damages against Haiti Live Networks.
The Haitian network has denied CNN’s infringement claims and insists that CNN is engaging in trademark bullying. While holding that the case is a “typical bullying tactic,” Haiti Live Networks’ Executive Vice President Stephan Jean did say that his company was willing to negotiate with CNN to “work something out.”
In a somewhat defeatist manner, Jean admits that Haiti Live Networks is “too small to challenge CNN and will most likely lose in court.” It’s true that Haiti Live Networks may not have the resources to win a lengthy litigation against CNN. However, Jean’s concession that it will likely lose may indicate that Haiti Live Networks’ use of “HLN” is infringing, plain and simple. While it may not be willful, intentional, or deliberate use, that will not matter for the company. Under the Lanham Act, CNN only needs to prove that an infringing use creates a likelihood of confusion, not that it was an intentional infringement.