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Press Box: URL Talk

Man bites Mugger: Ledbetter clips Press.

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The New York Press raised its profile above the East Village by picking fights with media players and demanding reactions. But former Village Voice "Press Clips" columnist James Ledbetter has done the one thing the free weekly just can't tolerate: pretend it doesn't exist. Last fall, Ledbetter (who now works for The Industry Standard) filed a trademark application for the name "New York Press or NY Press" as a "printed publication covering life in New York City (politics, media, culture, business, etc.), and an affiliated Website with e-mail newsletters." Ostensibly, this was so Ledbetter could publish his www.newyorkpress.net, a local-media review with links to city publications (but not the Press). "I suppose that I still have an itch to write about local media that's not dot-com-oriented," he says. "I'm writing about the New York press. As far as I can tell, no one owns the trademark." The weekly sees something other than sheer coincidence at work. "The word I got was he was deliberately trying to stick it to the New York Press," says publisher Michael O'Hara. "Having a printed record of this thing for the last thirteen years, it's certainly ours not to lose." (Press owner and "Mugger" columnist Russ Smith wouldn't comment.) Last month, the weekly, which owns the URLs www.nypress.com and www.nypress.net, had its lawyers send Ledbetter a cease-and-desist letter -- to which he had not responded by last Monday's deadline. (Ledbetter is seeking legal advice.) "It's not meant to have any relationship to their paper," he insists. "It's not meant to be a parody or a joke. When one reads 'Mugger,' one could have the impression that they have these massive feuds. But they're largely one-way." Perhaps they're just feeling a little mugged themselves.


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