Russian newspapers to file counter-suits against U.S. lawyer

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Two popular Russian newspapers said Wednesday they would file counter lawsuits against a U.S. lawyer following a court decision to freeze their bank accounts in North America.

MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) - Two popular Russian newspapers said Wednesday they would file counter lawsuits against a U.S. lawyer following a court decision to freeze their bank accounts in North America.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the U.S. bank accounts and trademarks of Argumenty i Fakty (AiF) and Komsomolskaya Pravda be suspended over alleged failure to pay Julian Lowenfeld, who had defended their interests in a piracy case.

Lowenfeld first took legal action against the papers in 1999 after they allegedly failed to pay him $434,000 in fees for winning a case against North American Russian-language weekly Kurier, which they accused of copyright violations. A district court then ruled in his favor, but the decision was never enforced. Lowensfeld then filed a suit with a higher court.

Alexander Ivanov, head of Komsomolskaya Pravda's legal department, said: "We will be pushing for the 1999 decision to be overturned on the grounds that he [Lowenfeld] had actually failed to complete his work."

Ivanov expressed his concern that Monday's ruling might lead to the closure of the newspaper's weekly digest published in the U.S. "We haven't registered our trademark in America, but this doesn't stop people from outlawing our title. They may just ban us from publishing a newspaper under this name."

Lawyers for both newspapers will appear for hearings at the New York Court later on Wednesday.

AiF Deputy CEO for Legal Issues Andrei Mironov said, "We will probably ask the court to postpone hearings to review the documents and to thoroughly prepare for the trial."

If the papers do not appeal the ruling, Lowenfeld will be entitled to use their trademarks and distribution proceeds in the U.S. until the sum due - now standing at $682,000 including interest - is paid to him in full.

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