The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. filed a civil complaint with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on December 20 against the television distributor Western International Syndication (Western), and the production company Inner City Theater Group, Inc. (ICTG), for violation of Federal trademark law and unfair competition based upon their ongoing and unauthorized use of Apollo Foundation trademarks — specifically those relating to the "Showtime at the Apollo" television property — in the production and promotion of their similarly themed television show, "Showtime In Harlem."
The Apollo Theater Foundation operates the world-famous Apollo Theater, a national historic landmark located in Harlem and one of New York City's most important cultural institutions. The state-owned, not-for-profit foundation is committed to fulfilling its mandate of securing and maintaining its position as a cultural and educational resource to the Harlem community and to the public at large.
" The Apollo has a cherished history. It is an asset to the community. This is the right thing to do — to protect its value for the benefit of the community," says Richard Parsons, Chairman of the Apollo Foundation.
David Rodriguez, executive director of the Apollo Theater, adds: "The continued use of the Apollo Theater's trademarks by Western and ICTG's "Showtime In Harlem" is the source of considerable confusion in the marketplace, in the mind of the consumer, and among other interested parties, which injures and dilutes the Apollo's distinctive brands — many of which have been symbols of the Apollo since 1934 — and its affiliated properties, including the original "Showtime at the Apollo". This confusion, if it is not stopped, will hurt our ability to make needed improvements to the Apollo Theater and to carry out the important purposes of the Foundation."
Nicole Bernard, senior vice president of new business development and communications for the Apollo Theater stated that the Foundation found it necessary to ask the court's assistance in resolving this matter after numerous written requests to Western and ICTG to cease and desist their infringing and unfair conduct were ignored.
"Showtime at the Apollo" is currently being produced by de Passe Entertainment and distributed by the minority-owned and operated distribution company, The Heritage Networks.
The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. was established in 1991 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and development of the world famous Apollo Theater, a New York City, New York State and federally-dedicated historic landmark.