West Coast Tries Again With New Name

After stumbling over a copyright challenge to the name of its “moviebuff.com” online video and DVD site, West Coast Entertainment Corp. ( OTC BB:WCEC) launched a newly named e-commerce site that will combine a vast selection of films with Hollywood news and views.

The site, westcoastvideo.com, offers selections from West Coast Video’s retail stores and represents a bid to compete with established e-commerce giants. They include Hollywood Entertainment’s (Nasdaq: HLYW) Reel.com, Cdnow, Inc. (Nasdaq: CDNW) and Amazon.com’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) video section.

“West Coast Video and westcoastvideo.com have a retail customer base of over 4 million people,” said Kyle Standley, president and CEO of West Coast Entertainment. “We anticipate that a large number of our customers will begin to utilize the site giving Westcoastvideo.com an immediate audience.”

What’s in a (Net) Name?

In February, West Coast took down its “moviebuff.com” Web site and the meta tags that guide search engines to sites, following the copyright challenge. pA federal appeals court temporarily barred West Coast from using “moviebuff” in April because it is the trademarked property of Brookfield Communications, Inc., a California Net entertainment news and computer software provider.

The case, which has been sent back to federal court for review, has been closely monitored by lawyers seeking definitive answers on whether a Web site may use the trademark of a competitor in a meta tag.

West Coast has not abandoned the “movie buff” name altogether. The new site dubs itself “The Movie Buff’s Movie Store.”

Standley predicted online business would turn a profit within 18 to 24 months, but declined to provide specific sales projections. The company would not say how many titles will be available online.

Like competitors, West Coast’s site enables customers to search for favorite movies by title, actor, director, film theme and content. Advanced searches find films through character names, film location and books, plays or biographies on which films are based.

Competition Stiff

West Coast Entertainment, based in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, owns, operates and franchises about 450 stores and employs about 1,100 people. For the three months ended January 31, West Coast reported revenues of $30.1 (US$) and after-tax earnings of $16.7 million.

Its most direct competitor, Reel.com, launched its site January 1997, with mainstream Hollywood movies and a wide variety of cult, classic, kids favorites, hard-to-find, foreign, and art-house films.

Reel.com features more than 100,000 titles and complements the listings with content from an editorial staff of more than 40. Its partners include include AOL, Excite, @Home Network, Chicago Sun Times, E! Online, Film.com, PlanetOut, Turner Home Entertainment, and TV Guide Entertainment Network.

Hollywood Entertainment, Reel.com’s parent company, operates Hollywood Video, the second largest video store chain in the United States, with more than 1,260 stores in 42 states.

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