In the latest salvo in the legal battle between Dominion Satellite and EchoStar, Dominion has ammended its suit against the satellite operator to add the claim that EchoStar has co-opted Dominion's Worry Free TV slogan for its own family-friendly programming.
A federal appeals court in December upheld a $2 million plus arbitration panel judgment against satellite TV company EchoStar for breach of contract for launching Chrisian channels on DISH network.
EchoStar and Dominion have something of a symbiotic relationship, at least businesswise. According to court papers supplied by Dominion, the two have a programming exclusivity agreement that prevents EchoStar from competing in the Christian programming space and Dominion in the secular space, subject to some caveats.
The latest legal tangle is over Dominion's providing secular family-friendly fare. Dominion said the long-standing agreement allowed it to offer some family-friendly secular programming (as well as its Christian Sky Angel service) if EchoStar didn't. Dominion launched the secular service in spring of last year.
EchoStar countered that was a violation and threatened to terminate the agreement. Dominion sued to block the company, and has now ammended the suit to add the charge that EchoStar, which has now launched its own family-friendly service, co-opted the Worry Free TV slogan Dominion has used, and trademarked, since 1998.
According to the suit, EchoStar agreed not to use the slogan any more, but said it had already contracted for some ads using the term.
Back in 1996, Dominion, which broadcasts 20 channels of Christian programming as the Sky Angel network, struck a deal in which it leased satellite capacity for eight transponders from EchoStar, then subleased six of them, with the accompanying FCC license rights that EchoStar lacked, back to Echostar.
So Echostar, which had the capacity but not enough FCC licenses, and Angel, which had the licenses but not enough capacity, both benefited.
EchoStar spokesman Mark Lumpkin had no comment, but a check of the EchoStar Web site found no mention of the Worry Free TV slogan.