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Spike Lee, Viacom Settle Name Dispute

Logo - NY TimesJuly 7, 2003 | The New York Times

By Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Movie director Spike Lee and Viacom Inc. on Monday settled a legal fight over the U.S. media conglomerate’s plans to rebrand its TNN cable network as “Spike TV,” representatives for both sides said.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed but Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Walter Tolub lifted an order that he had issued last month barring Viacom from using the “Spike” name.

A source familiar with the situation told Reuters the lawsuit was being withdrawn and that TNN would proceed with its planned name change.

Both sides were ordered to appear in court before Tolub on Tuesday morning.

A Viacom spokesman refused to comment prior to the hearing, but a TNN spokesman said, “We are very happy with the outcome and we are issuing a joint statement tomorrow.”

Said Lee’s attorney Terry Gross, “The case is settled.”

Lee, the director of such films as “Malcolm X,” “25th Hour” and “Do The Right Thing,” had argued that he feared he would be mistakenly associated with the network.

Viacom maintained that Spike was a common name.

The name change was planned to coincide with a programming shift for TNN, which recently added some racy animated series to its schedule, such as “Stripperella,” featuring the voice and cartoon likeness of Pamela Anderson, and “The Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon.”

The lawsuit has complicated efforts by the cable channel to newly promote itself as the “first network for men.” TNN officials have said they chose the word “spike” to convey an image both male and irreverent.