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A Texas baker of YA-HOO! cakes asks a federal judge to order Internet directory Yahoo to change the style of its logo and stop using its name on the Internet.

In another fight over trademark rights on the Net, a Texas baker of YA-HOO! cakes has asked a federal judge to order Yahoo to change the style of its logo and stop using its name on the Internet.

The company filed a motion in a U.S. District Court in Dallas to seek a preliminary injunction that would bar Yahoo, the search company, from using its name.

Yahoo's lawyers in Washington have 20 days to file a response to the suit after which Miss King's Kitchen will have 10 days to reply. The judge will then make a decision based on the response. The bakery's attorney Roger Mandel said he expects the ruling to take place in about two months.

Yahoo officials have not yet returned phone calls.

The case represents a mounting problem on the Net, as companies fight for names and logos that can be used, legally, to sell products and services on the burgeoning distribution network. A wide range of companies, including Microsoft and Netscape Communications, have been involved in similar battles. The trademark tussles often are heated, and sometimes they focus on such common words as "explorer" or "windows," both of which are, of course, words that Microsoft has trademarked for product names. The fights have been compared with the struggle over vanity license plates: the difference is that there's millions of dollars at stake as companies try to establish brand identities on the Net.

In the Yahoo case, Miss King's Kitchens, maker of The Original Texas YA-HOO! cake, hit the market in 1980 and trademarked its logo in 1989. Yahoo got its trademark for its popular Internet search service in 1995.

The $5 million cake and cookie company had no idea someone else was using a similar logo until Yahoo went public in April 1996, after which Yahoo quickly became a household name and, with the other search services, began trying to create brand-name recognition in the mass market.

"This is not a new phenomenon," said Sam Fifer, an attorney specializing in copyright law at the Chicago law firm Sonnenschein, Nath, and Rosenthal. About 15 years ago, he said, NBC buried the peacock and came up with a stylized N. Then they got a call from a Nebraska broadcasting company who had a similar logo and everybody had egg on their face. "But, NBC and Nebraska came up with a civilized solution. NBC donated some broadcast equipment to Nebraska, so it turned out to be a win-win situation," Fifer added.

Commenting on the YA-HOO!/Yahoo case, he said: "Frankly, I've never heard of Miss King's cakes, so I'm not sure they are going to be able to establish the fact that they possess a famous mark.

"Some guys are going to legitimately be hurt by this, but some are going to see an opportunity to milk the situation as well."

The bakery's lawsuit was originally filed in April 1996 for trademark infringement and dilution, although the request for the injunction was only delivered yesterday, according to Geoffrey Crowley, president of Miss King's Kitchens. Crowley said the Yahoo logo is virtually identical to Miss King's logo, and that creates confusion in the marketplace.

"I really became interested, or shall I say offended, when I read about their initial public offering," said Crowley. "They made it clear that they planned to be quite aggressive about their plan to brand out their logo well beyond the confines of the Internet.

"We've enjoyed a lot of really great reactions from the public about our unique logo and what we're most concerned about is that being taken away from us as these folks become more and more successful," said Crowley. "We're also afraid that our customers will be confused and think that our products are actually Yahoo's products."

The primary focus of the case is to make Yahoo change its logo. "We want them to stop using the exclamation point in the highly stylized form that looks so much like our trademarked logo," said Miss King's Kitchen's attorney Mandel. "Our original suit asked for damages, but I'd have to say that the primary focus is to get them to stop using our logo."

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