Nettaxi sues rival community GeoCities

Nettaxi Online Communities, which offers free home pages to its customers, sues GeoCities in a preemptive move over the right to use the names "Wall Street" and "Capitol Hill."

SAN JOSE, California--Nettaxi Online Communities, which offers free home pages to its customers, sued rival GeoCities in a preemptive move over the right to use the names "Wall Street" and "Capitol Hill" for two online communities.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Campbell, California-based Nettaxi says GeoCities has threatened to sue Nettaxi for trademark infringement if it doesn't stop using the two names, which GeoCities also uses.

Nettaxi contends "Wall Street" and "Capitol Hill" are generic terms and not subject to trademark protection. Nettaxi is asking a judge to affirm its right to use the names and to award costs and expenses.

"Even if the words 'Wall Street' and 'Capitol Hill' were protected, [Nettaxi] used the words in connection with the services prior to GeoCities and would have senior rights," Nettaxi says in the suit.

GeoCities spokesman Bruce Zanca said his company applied for trademark protection of the words last October, "and we fully expect to get that protection from the government."

Nettaxi bills itself as a premier gateway for e-commerce. It recently agreed to buy privately held Plus Net, an online services company, for about $70 million in stock. GeoCities, with 3 million users, has agreed to be bought next month by Yahoo for about $3.92 billion in stock.

Shares of Nettaxi fell .38 to 19 today, while GeoCities rose .31 to 136.13. Yahoo rose .31 to 207.

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