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Welcome to court, ‘Welcome to the D’?

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
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Detroit — The “Welcome to the D” expression, immortalized in Motor City culture and clothing, may soon be battled over in court.

A West Bloomfield Township musician claims he owns the trademark to the popular “Welcome to the D” expression and wants to stop the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and Detroit Sports Commission from using it.

In a federal trademark infringement lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Mark Kassa, a member of the band “Slight Return” and host of the “Welcome to the D Show” talk show, said he has registered a number of “Welcome to the D” trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for clothing, shirts and entertainment services.

But in October 2012, Kassa said in his suit, without his authorization or permission, the convention bureau and Detroit Sports Commission misappropriated the expression, putting it up on various banners and signs on street lampposts and hotel lobbies around Detroit to promote the 2012 Major League Baseball World Series. And subsequently, to advertise goods and services using “an identical or nearly identical” trademark Kassa said, to his line of clothing.

“My client wants to protect his intellectual property,” said Kassa’s attorney Scott S. Yaldo. “Its something any artist wants to do.

“He created something and it took off a couple years ago; a lot of people went and used it without checking to see who had the rights to it, something they should have done,” said Yaldo. “And this (lawsuit) won’t be the end of it. We expect to be adding other defendants.”

Marty Dobek, a spokesman for the Detroit Sports Commission, said Thursday night this was the first he had heard of the lawsuit and could not comment on it. Attempts to reach the convention and visitors bureau were not successful Thursday evening.

The lawsuit alleges the misappropriation of the “Welcome to the D” trademarks “causes confusion to consumers” and “dilutes the distinctiveness and associated goodwill” Kassa claims he has created for an online apparel and accessories store that sells various products related to Detroit and music.

Kassa claims the actions has caused damage to his reputation and loss of business and he has suffered irreparable harm unless the convention bureau and sports commission are not permanently enjoined by the court.

Kassa seeks to have a court decision that the unauthorized use of the trademarks infringes on his intellectual property rights and to order all labels, sins, prints, advertisements, accessories that depict or make reference to the trademark be destroyed and removed from all Internet websites, online advertising; marketing searching engines, or other online materials.

Kassa also wants unspecified compensation for all damages he believes he has sustained at triple damages, provided under law and reimbursement for all of his attorney fees and costs.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

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