MDC Roped Into Trademark-Infringement Suit

Gigantic Marketing Includes Company in Motion Against Neil Powell's Ad Shop

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A "Gigantic" brouhaha over trademark infringement within the advertising community just became a little larger.
Neil Powell
Neil Powell

Gigantic Marketing, a 2-year-old firm based in New York, expanded its trademark lawsuit against ad agency We Are Gigantic to include the shop's parent company, MDC Partners.

"It became clear that everything [We Are Gigantic] is doing, MDC backs them," said Bernard Urban, Gigantic Marketing's president. "Everything they're doing is sanctioned by them."

No-show at meetings
The legal action became necessary, Mr. Urban said, because Neil Powell, We Are Gigantic's president and the primary defendant in the trial, has been a no-show at two scheduled meetings with a magistrate judge.

"Now that MDC has been added [to the lawsuit], maybe [MDC CEO] Miles Nadal will see the obvious need to change the name," said Mr. Urban.

MDC fully owns We Are Gigantic, an agency founded by Mr. Powell in April 2007 after the Toronto-based holding company dissolved Margeotes Fertitta Powell.
Miles Nadal
Miles Nadal

A spokesperson for Mr. Nadal had no comment on the proceedings, and Mr. Powell could not be reached for his input.

However, when Ad Age contacted Mr. Powell on the original motion in October, he didn't mince words: "We love the name. We think the lawsuit has absolutely no merit. So does our counsel and so does MDC. We plan to vigorously defend it to the bitter end. Claiming you own a word in an industry is absurd. We don't really know who this other company is, and we don't see any confusion between what we do and what they do."

Account loss
Mr. Urban, who said he has spent "in the tens of thousands of dollars" on the litigation, clearly disagrees. Having dedicated six months conjuring up the "Gigantic" moniker when he renamed his company in October 2005, he became miffed when he started receiving calls and e-mails directed to We Are Gigantic. The dispute came to a head when We Are Gigantic lost the Mike's Hard Lemonade account this past summer, an event that Mr. Urban believes tarnished his company.

"Obviously, it causes confusion," Mr. Urban said. "We're in New York, he's in New York. There are just too many similarities."