Puppets lose name case

April 05, 1991|By Randi Henderson

Kids on the Block founder Barbara Aiello summed up the resolution of the lawsuit filed by her puppet company with the glum comment, "We lost big time."

Although she is awaiting the court transcript before deciding whether to pursue the case against the pop singing group New Kids on the Block, Ms. Aiello said for financial reasons, she probably will give up. Instead, she may try to get a news show -- such as "60 Minutes" or "20/20" -- interested in the case of the similar-sounding names.

Earlier this year the puppet group sued the pop singers, citing evidence that confusion in the names harmed the business and reputation of the Columbia-based puppet company, founded in 1977, which specializes

in plays about children with disabilities or social problems.

But Judge Thomas P. Grisea of the Southern District Court of New York -- where the New Kids are based -- declined to hear witnesses in the case.

At the Feb. 22 hearing, the judge admonished the plaintiff for taking years before filing suit and called the complaint "positively outlandish." In the end, the puppet group withdrew its suit after the judge threatened to make it pay for the New Kids' legal fees because, he said, "this case is so lacking in merit."

Len Lewin, a Boston attorney who represents the singing group, said, "Obviously we're pleased. What else can you say when your side wins?"

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