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As the Union-Tribune hovers closer and closer to possible death, awaiting a buyer to rescue it from oblivion, parent company Copley Press has been rushing to clean up some messy loose ends. Latest development: Copley has settled a trademark violation complaint brought on February 29 of this year in federal court by Mannis Communications of Pacific Beach, owner of the La Jolla Village News and other local papers. Mannis claimed that Copley’s Union-Tribune had impinged on its rights regarding a monthly magazine Mannis began publishing in December 2005 called San Diego Pets and its tagline “A Lifestyle Magazine for Pet Lovers.” The suit calls both the name and tagline “valuable and irreplaceable assets of plaintiff.” The 60-page pet-publication idea was so successful, the suit recounts, that Mannis hired a business broker who offered to sell both the publication and website to Copley, which turned the idea down in August 2007. But then, less than two months later, in October 2007, the complaint says, Copley “advertised it was starting a new publication called ‘Tails’ in direct competition with plaintiff.” Copley’s tagline was “lifestyles of the San Diego pet,” which Mannis alleged was “not independently created, but rather a modified version of the plaintiff’s tagline.” And that wasn’t all, Mannis claimed. Just before launching the publication, Copley changed the name from Tails to SD Pets, even though it had “knowledge of the plaintiff’s ‘San Diego Pets’ publication.” Making matters even worse, the complaint says, Copley “undercut plaintiff’s advertising rates for San Diego Pets Magazine.” In its April response, Copley denied it stole anything from Mannis. Last week, the parties settled out of court for undisclosed terms. The firm’s Julie Mannis Hoisington declined to comment on the case or its outcome.

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