Harvard Broadcasting says it will rename Power 107 (CJNW-FM) Edmonton, following a Monday court ruling granting Corus Entertainment a temporary injunction against Harvard’s use of the ‘Power’ brand.
At the heart of Corus’ lawsuit, launched in September, was the assertion that Harvard knowingly made use of the ‘Power’ brand, including assuming a similar logo, playlist and “Phrase That Pays” contesting tag synonymous with Power 92 – the name CKNG-FM Edmonton was operated under between 1991 and 2003 – by a series of ownership groups including Moffatt Communications, Westcom Radio, Shaw Communications and eventually Corus. Since 2018, the station has been branded as 92.5 The ‘Chuck.
Corus acquired the Power 92, Power 107, and Power 97 trademarks as part of the company’s acquisition of Western International Communications Ltd. (WIC) in 1999, however Power 92 and Power 107 were expunged from the registry in 2015 due to failure to renew.
In a Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta ruling issued Monday, Justice Nancy Dilts said she was satisfied that Corus’ claims of copyright infringement presented a serious issue to be tried, both as to the similarity of the former Power 92 logo and a Harvard social media post that contained the Power 92 logo, teasing “Back this Monday #PhraseThatPays.”
Harvard rebranded CJNW-FM to Power 107 in mid-August, with Christian Hall, the company’s National Brand Manager, hailing the change as the debut of the relatively new Classic CHR or “rhythmic classic hits” format that harkens back to 1990s and early 2000s power pop from artists like Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and NSYNC.
Hall told Broadcast Dialogue at the time that with three Top 40 stations in the market, it was time for the station to move on to its next incarnation and that the rebrand had been in the works for nearly a year. According to court documents, the rebrand and accompanying promotional campaign cost Harvard roughly $275,000.
Harvard issued a statement to listeners and clients late Monday indicating that while it believes the company has grounds to appeal, it will respect the ruling:
“Dear POWER 107 community,
On August 15th, we were excited to introduce POWER 107 to Edmonton with a new station that focused on a time when pop music was at its peak with artists like Backstreet Boys, Britney, Rihanna, and *NSYNC.
The response we had from you was overwhelmingly positive, however we soon received a cease and desist letter from Corus Entertainment claiming we were infringing on the trademarks and copyrights they held in relation to the word POWER. We disagreed and decided to stand our ground.
For the past 3 months, having done our homework, we’ve been defending our right to continue operating as POWER 107. Our case was simple; Corus held no trademark to the name POWER in general, and had allowed their specific trademarks on Power 92 and Power 107 to be expunged. Corus’ argument was that regardless of whether or not they held a trademark, or whether or not they were even the first “POWER” named station in the country (they were not), they still had a legal holding on the name due to the goodwill they built while operating as Power 92 from 1991- 2003, and by our use of POWER, they would lose the opportunity to one day bring it back themselves. Our opinion was one that if they truly meant to bring it back, they would have done so by now, and certainly would not have allowed their existing trademarks to be expunged.
So, let’s cut to the chase, today a judge ruled in favour of Corus, meaning we need to stop calling ourselves POWER 107. While we don’t agree with the decision, we will respect it. And while we believe we have grounds for an appeal, we do not wish to consume any more of the courts time on this case.
Moving forward, this does NOT change a single thing you’ve been enjoying on POWER 107. We’ll continue to play our awesome playlist and we’ll continue to deliver top notch entertainment with our amazing team of hosts. The only thing that will change is our name, and with that we need your help.
Starting today, we’re taking suggestions for a new name. Send your suggestions to NewName@harvardbroadcasting.com. We will review them all, pick our favourite and enter everyone who suggested the winning name into a draw where one winner will walk away with $1,007! So put on your thinking cap, and submit your suggestions now, the deadline is November 29th at 5pm.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Shakespeare
The POWER 107 Team”
Among other facets of Monday’s judgement, Dilts refused Harvard’s request to discount evidence given by Brad Phillips, Corus Vice-President and Head of FM Radio, that the company “has and continues to consider a revival of the Power brand in Edmonton” despite the assertion not being supported by meeting notes or confirming record.
Dilts also dismissed Corus’ claims that 92.5 The ‘Chuck has suffered “immeasurable” harm by the launch of Power 107, finding that there was no appreciable change in Chuck’s ratings from its Aug. 2018 launch. Dilts pointed out that the stations are very different in format and that Chuck employs no on-air staff. The station currently airs syndicated American morning show Brooke & Jubal in its morning time slot.
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