Columnist Nikki Finke sues "Deadline Hollyweird"

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Hollywood scribe Nikki Finke, the founder of the Deadline Hollywood news site, is in a trademark tangle with the operator of a website called Deadline Hollyweird.

One problem: Finke and her lawyers have no idea who is running the Hollyweird site, which describes itself as “a Los Angeles-based news and gossip organization dedicated to exposing the truth about Hollywood talent agencies, celebrities and the movie studios & television networks.” Media Corp., parent of Finke’s, filed a trademark infringement suit this week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The plaintiff claims to be “the sole owner of certain inherently distinctive trademarks related to the goods and services associated with Deadline.” That includes the banner art where the word “Deadline” hangs above a blue sky next to the landmark Hollywood sign -- the iconic image that Finke appropriated for her logo several years ago.

On the Hollyweird site, “Deadline” also hangs above a blue sky next to a modified Hollyweird sign. MMC claims the site provides news about the entertainment industry, which makes it a direct competitor, and it has banner artwork claimed to be “confusingly similar.”

Unfortunately, none of Finke’s sources have been able to help her find the alleged perpetrator. Could it be an executive targeted by one of her rants? One of the competing journalists she routinely maligns?

According to a discovery motion, the defendant registered its service via an entity known as PrivacyPost, which masks the owner’s identity by substituting its information in the WHOIS database in place of the owner’s info.

When MMC’s lawyers searched for contact information, they say they were taunted by this message: “Join us on Facebook to find out how to become a ‘Deadline Hollyweird’ VIP inside member! It’s what all the cool kids are doing.”

MMC is looking to subpoena the registration-masking company for more information about who is Hollyweird.