MacDonald, aka “Tommy Mac” et al. v. WGBH Educational Foundation et al. (18-cv-10773).

Woodworker and former TV host Thomas MacDonald sued Boston public television station WGBH for trademark infringement, false suggestion of connection, false endorsement/sponsorship, unauthorized use of name and picture under state law, misrepresentation, and breach of contract in connection with WGBH continuing to produce and broadcast the show “Rough Cut – Woodworking with Tommy Mac” after not renewing MacDonald’s contract to host the show.  According to the complaint, Mr. MacDonald had a highly successful fine furniture business that had utilized the marks “Tommy Mac” and “rough Cut” for a nine-year period of time when WGBH approached him about hosting a woodworking show on the station.  At that point, MacDonald had been discussed in the media on many occasions, had appeared on Bob Vila’s “Home Again” show, and had established a weekly web-based show, called “The Rough Cut Show,” which had over 2 million page views and hundreds of thousands of followers and established common-law trademark rights in “Tommy Mac” and “Rough Cut.”  His contract to host the WGBH show, titled “Rough Cut: Woodworking with Tommy Mac,” required him to permit WGBH to register the show name as a WGBH-owned trademark and required him to give up his woodworking business to focus exclusively on the show.  The agreement did not, however, convey rights to “Tommy Mac” or “Rough Cut” standing alone; WGBH did, however, register “Rough Cut” without informing MacDonald.  MacDonald hosted the show for seven seasons, at which point his contract was not renewed.  Rather than simply cancelling the show, WGBH hired a new host, Tom McLaughlin, and aired another season, which WGBH referred to as “Season 8” of the show.  WGBH continued using the name “Rough Cut – Woodworking with Tommy Mac,” and continued using MacDonald’s likeness in advertisements and listings.  MacDonald seeks injunctive relief, including a requirement that WGBH air an oral and written statement indicating that MacDonald is no longer associated with the show; cancellation of WGBH’s “Rough Cut” mark, monetary damages and attorney’s fees.

I recall watching some of the shows MacDonald hosted – he created really beautiful furniture, such as this Hepplewhite Sideboard found at his website.


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