Literally fly-by-night experimental magazine 48 HR is a triumph of digital technology and creativity over the bloated and outdated modes of print publishing. Basically, the editors used the Internet and coffee to successfully produce the inaugural issue in, you guessed it, 48 hours. It was an awesome stunt that produced interesting results, but there’s just one problem. CBS has issued a cease-and-desist letter against 48 HR because the title sounds a lot like “48 Hours,” CBS’ tabloid-y “news magazine” television show.
Says The New York Times‘ David Carr:
On May 11, Lauren Marcello, the assistant general counsel at CBS sent a cease and desist letter, noting that “CBS is the owner of the rights in the award-winning news magazine televison series, ’48 Hours,’ and its companion series, including ’48 Hours Mystery,’” adding later in the letter, “your use is unlawful and constitutes trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition …” along with a lot of other complicated, vaguely threatening legalese.
48 HR founding editor Matthew Honan told the Times, “To be honest, none of us even knew that there was still a program called ’48 Hours,’ so it never crossed our mind.” CBS General counsel Louis Briskman said the cease-and-desist letter was written to begin negotiations between the two parties. Julie Turner, whom 48 HR has retained to respond to CBS, expressed hope that the magazine and the network could resolve the conflict amicably. Honan told the Times that changing the name would conflict with the magazine’s central vision.
Common sense would seem to dictate that consumers can discern the difference between a 60-page glossy deliberately put together under extreme duress and a decades-old TV documentary series. No word yet on whether Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy have issued their own cease-and-desist letters.