SIPA Member News - New Members, a New President and a Winning Court Decision

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Welcome New Members

We are excited to welcome the following new members to the SIPA community:

The Habitat Group publishes newsletters, books, webinars and other resources for commercial and residential real estate professionals and their attorney.

MMIT is a product, solutions and advisory company that brings transparency to pharmacy and medical benefit information. They are also the parent company of a past, longtime SIPA member—AIS Health.

Mary Larkin Promoted to President of Diversified Communications' U.S. Operating Division

Diversified Communications' president & CEO Theodore Wirth, promoted Mary Larkin to president of Diversified Communications' U.S. operating division. This division, located in Portland, Maine, employs over 200 people who produce 24 conferences and exhibitions annually, over 10 online publications and B2B platforms, and two monthly trade magazines.

Larkin has worked at Diversified Communications for over 23 years, rising through the ranks from her entry position in sales to show director, group VP, executive VP and now president. Throughout this time, she has been integral in growing the company's largest events: Seafood Expo Global and Seafood Expo North America. She is also an active and contributing professional within the events industry, most recently as incoming president of UFI – the global association of the exhibition industry.

"It is an honor to take on this new leadership position," said Larkin. "I look forward to working with our talented and dedicated staff to take Diversified's U.S. division to new heights."

 Providence Publications Wins Court Decision in Case of Accused Trademark Infringement in Its Seminar Advertising


Longtime SIPA member Providence Publications was victorious in court recently in defending a lawsuit from Applied Underwriters. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of California agreed with Providence's Workers' Comp Executive and rejected allegations by Applied Underwriters that advertising for a Workers' Comp Executive webcast improperly used its Applied Underwriters' EquityComp trademark.

The lawsuit stemmed from a 2015 webcast and subsequent DVD produced by Workers' Comp Executive titled "Applied Underwriters' EquityComp® Program Like it, Leave it, or Let it be?" The subhead read, "Learn the best strategies for selling, competing with, or helping a prospect out of EquityComp mid-term."

Applied Underwriters, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, alleged that the "marketing spread confusion in the marketplace, diluted its trademark and could have been accomplished without using the EquityComp name," according to Workers' Comp Executive. The court rejected all of these claims in upholding a lower court's dismissal of the case.

"The seminar did not discuss workers' compensation programs generally, but rather Plaintiff's specific offering," the Ninth Circuit noted in its published decision. "Therefore, Defendants 'needed to communicate' that they critiqued the EquityComp program, and so using the mark in the title and description of the program 'accomplished this goal.'"

"What we've experienced," said J. Dale Debber, WCE publisher, "is what a lot of Applied Underwriters' insureds experience: a 'scorched earth' policy in litigation. Its scorched earth policy shows in the many lawsuits it has with its own insureds."

"The important thing here is the lesson for fellow publishers," Debber told SIPAlert Daily. "Don't be afraid to take on the big guys. And if you're doing a webcast about someone's problems, you can name them and use their trademark."

Added Christopher Mohr, SIIA's VP for intellectual property and general counsel: "This was a good decision applying one of trademark law's bedrock rules: If you use a trademark in a purely descriptive way, you can't be sued—even if the trademark owner might not like what you say about them."

Kiplinger Journalism Program Moves to Ohio University

Ohio University has announced that its E.W. Scripps School of Journalism is the new home of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.

"Now more than ever, news and information plays a critical role in society, and the Kiplinger Program's internationally-recognized credentials make it a coveted fellowship for today's journalists," said Ohio University president M. Duane Nellis. "I would like to thank the Kiplinger family for entrusting this important program to Ohio University and the funds that support it to The Ohio University Foundation."

The prestigious fellowship program was established in 1972 at The Ohio State University, with grants from The Kiplinger Foundation, in honor of W. M. Kiplinger, OSU '12 (1891-1967), who founded the prominent Washington publisher of business forecasts and personal-finance periodicals.

The program has equipped nearly 10,000 journalists with the latest tools and strategies for success since its inception. The Kiplinger Program will be supported with annual income from a permanent endowment of more than $5 million that will be transferred from OSU to The Ohio University Foundation in mid-February, to complete the program's relocation to the Scripps School.

"My grandfather, a proud native son of the Buckeye State, would have been pleased that the journalism program named in his memory will continue to flourish in Ohio," said Knight Kiplinger, editor in chief and chairman of the Kiplinger media company and president of The Kiplinger Foundation.

Lessiter Media Unveils New Website, Event Focused on Cover Crop Management

Lessiter Media has announced the launch of a new website and event dedicated to providing farmers with practical tips and information on managing cover crops to improve their soil resource, protect the environment and enhance on-farm profitability.

The aim of the new website is to help growers make cover crops a more valuable tool in their conservation management.

Creating the website and the Summit is "a natural for our business" as no-tillers are the undisputed leader in the use of cover crops, said Mike Lessiter, president of Lessiter Media. "We're very excited about this launch because it aligns with our mission of making a lasting difference in agriculture.

If you have any news, hirings, transactions, awards or anything else you'd like fellow members to know about, please email me at Thank you!


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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…