Atascadero publication changes name after lawsuit threat

July 28, 2015

warOnline news publication Atascadero Daily News has changed its name to A-Town Daily News following a legal threat from a competitor who claimed trademark infringement.

John Tompkins, the president of News Media Corp., and employee-turned-competitor Scott Brennan have been feuding publicly in their local publications. Last month, Tompkins left a voicemail threatening “war” on Brennan, and last week, Brennan published a recording of the message.

Tompkins attorney sent a letter to Brennan last week stating the name “Atascadero Daily News” is too similar to “Atascadero News.” The “Atascadero News” is trademarked and has long been the name of Tompkins’s publication.

Tompkins owns the Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press newspapers, as well as more than 70 local newspapers across the United States. Brennan founded the online Paso Robels Daily News in 2012, and two months ago, he created the Atascadero Daily News.

In the June voicemail Tompkins left for Brennan, the News Media Corp. president threatened to go after his former employee personally. Tompkins stated in his publications last week that Brennan had fired the first shot in the “war” by using his name.

Brennan stated in his publications that Tompkins is an out-of-town bully who is trying to stifle independent news rather than compete with it. Tompkins responded by saying he has done a lot for Brennan and that he could not believe what Brennan has been doing recently.

Brennan worked for Tompkins from 1995 to 2006. Brennan rose the ranks from the business office of a Watsonville newspaper to publisher and editor of a King City paper and eventually publisher of the Paso Robles Press.

Tompkins founded News Media Corp. in 1975. The company’s 76 newspapers are published in small cities and town that range in population from 1,000 to 50,000.



  1. Kiler says:

    I believe they caved in too fast. It is still my opinion that Atascadero, Paso Robles, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. can not be trademarked. In the current matter the name of the paper is not even a trademark, but simply Service Mark, if it ever was registered with the US Patent Office.
    Trademark encompasses a logo with specific writing (Coca Cola comes to mind)
    A Service Mark is the wording only, regardless of the typeface.

    (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
    • Vagabond says:

      They caved because the owner of the TM had a good case ( a Service mark is the same thing as a TM, look it up) and no, neither needs to be registered with the US patent office although it helps with defending it. All he needed to do was show that he had it first and the two could be confused. Case closed.
      Brennan did the right thing, move along.

      (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
      • Kiler says:

        Tell me how, for instance, Atascadero Reporter, or something similar, could be confused with the existing mediocre publication?

        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. godislanguage says:

    Not sure if he’s outa’ the woods yet. Lawyers love to split hairs, you still have two NEWS papers in Atascadero/A-Town and NEWS is being used as a proper noun. A-Town doesn’t sound so chic either. I would have dropped the NEWS and kept DAILY. Having DAILY and NEWS in your name is like saying Chocolate hot Cocoa.

    (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
  3. miles archer says:

    He may have won the battle, but I expect he will lose the war in this market.

    Tompkins only wins if we (the consumer) empower him with our business.

    Do not use their service, as a news source or as an advertising vehicle…do not promote or do business with their advertisers.

    I look forward to supporting Brennan and his new A-Town Daily News.

    (4) 14 Total Votes - 9 up - 5 down
  4. Vagabond says:

    Hate to say I told you so, but…

    (1) 13 Total Votes - 7 up - 6 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Yea easy to win when you have deep enough pockets. Ask O.J.

      (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
      • zaphod says:

        address available from the winners circle at The Nevada Department of Corrections

        (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
        • BeenThereDoneThat says:

          Different case. They couldn’t get him on DNA that only he and one other person in the world would have? Case closed.

          (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
          • zaphod says:

            Ito’s wife was Furman’s watch commander, extensive history of racism within that dept.(very weird)
            jury did what they did with the evidence presented.

            (-5) 5 Total Votes - 0 up - 5 down
      • Vagabond says:

        Easy to win when your opponent doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

        (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
        • BeenThereDoneThat says:

          Never went to court so he didn’t win, he intimidated.

          (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      May I suggest you see………..Robert Kearns. Man won but after years of battle with Car Companies and their…………wait for it……..LAWYERS!!! It wiped him out financially and physically.

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down

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