Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Hill by Christina Wilke:

Hollywood on the Potomac: Sound familiar?

A new political book filled with photographs of celebrities and politicians was released last week under a familiar title, Hollywood on the Potomac.

So familiar a title, in fact, that the paperback photo book was nearly slapped with a lawsuit by Washington publicist Janet Donovan, who is the owner of the trademarked phrase “Hollywood on the Potomac.”

Donovan has written a column about L.A. celebrities in Washington, called “Hollywood on the Potomac,” since 2002, the same year she filed her initial trademark registration paperwork. The column appears in print monthly in Washington Life magazine, and as a blog at

(Full disclosure: ITK’s editor used to work for Washington Life.)

Reached for comment, the publisher of the book, Arcadia Publishing, shifted blame for the trademark snafu onto the author, former Republican National Committee campaign strategist Jason Killian Meath.

“The author signed a contract confirming that they’ve received permission to use any copyrighted material in the book,” said P.J. Norlander, marketing director at Arcadia.

“But there’s certainly a lot of gray area here,” she said, adding, “We’d be happy to come to a resolution with the owner of the copyright.”

According to Donovan, further resolution won’t be necessary ... this time. “I’m going to give them a pass on this one,” she told ITK. “It’s a book, so what would I do, make them pull the book from the shelves?”

That’s exactly what she could do, according to her attorney, and it wouldn’t be the first time Donovan has had to take legal action to protect her trademarked phrase.

The most recent incident occurred when “Hollywood on the Potomac” appeared at the top of a website called

“My lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter and they pulled it down,” said Donovan.

Meath may have been spared the destruction of his book, but as far as he’s concerned, it was his publisher’s job to make sure the title didn’t violate any laws. “We went through a lot of different titles while we were planning the book,” he told ITK, “and of course, the final decision on that is in the hands of the publisher.”