Music Choice Chooses to Sue AOL

Digital-music-channel vendor Music Choice sued Time Warner Inc.’s America Online Inc. unit Wednesday, alleging that AOL’s My MC on-demand music-video channel infringes on the company’s Music Choice and My Music Choice brands.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Earlier this month, AOL launched My MC on several Time Warner Cable systems. The on-demand channel features concert footage from AOL’s concert series and music videos from BMG, Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.

Time Warner owns a minority stake in Music Choice, which filed the suit against AOL.

In addition to Time Warner, Music Choice's owners include Microsoft Corp., Motorola Inc., Sony Corp., EMI Music, Adelphia Communications Corp., Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc.

AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham declined to comment on the suit Wednesday afternoon, noting that AOL executives hadn’t had a chance to review the complaint.

Music Choice executives said they decided to sue AOL after settlement talks failed to yield a name change at My MC.

“We tried to get AOL to change the name to something that frankly had something to do with AOL and not Music Choice, and they were not willing to consider changing the name,” Music Choice CEO Dave Del Becarro said.

Del Becarro’s company owns the trademark for the brand “Music Choice,” and it also markets a “My Music Choice” audio music service, which allows digital-cable subscribers to create their own play lists. AOL has trademarked the term “My MC.”

Del Becarro said it was “unfortunate” that Music Choice was forced to sue AOL, which is owned by one of Music Choice’s owners.

“It’s never a good thing to be in a position of suing a partner or a customer, so we’re concerned about the impact this has on our relationships,” he said.

“On the other hand, this is not Time Warner Cable that has done this -- this is AOL,” he added. “And so, we would presume that Time Warner Cable can see that this is an issue where AOL has, in essence, put them in an awkward position as much as they’ve put us in an awkward position.”

Music Choice is seeking an order that would block AOL from using the My MC or MC brand, in addition to money damages