Business magazine ownership dispute settled

May 21, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARYLAND -- Partners in a regional business magazine have settled a court battle against each other.

Harby Tran and RidgeRunner Publishing LLC -- who were partners in Smart Company Magazine LLC -- said in a written statement on Thursday that they worked out an agreement about ownership of the business magazine.

The statement says Tran "will convey his interest in Smart Company Magazine, LLC back to the company" and will continue publishing 270inc Business Magazine, which he started last year.

Both sides agreed not to publish under "Smart Company" any more.

"Ultimately, we both decided to go our separate ways rather than continue the litigation," their joint statement says.

Smart Company Magazine publishes Washington and Frederick county business news.

Kate Rader, RidgeRunner's owner, said in an e-mail she couldn't comment further until she talks to community partners and advertisers.

"They were notified by letter earlier this month that we will not be publishing the July/August issue of the magazine, and as promised, I plan to convey our next steps in early June," her e-mail says.


Tran did not return a phone message Friday.

Tran sued last year to dissolve Smart Company Magazine LLC, saying he was asked to leave despite having equal control with RidgeRunner.

RidgeRunner countersued, seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages, plus interest and costs, and sought a restraining order to prevent Tran from publishing 270inc.

In court papers, Tran alleged that he and RidgeRunner each put up $15,000 to start Smart Company. When he was asked to leave, his complaint says, he started 270inc Business Magazine, which serves Frederick and Montgomery counties, along the Interstate 270 corridor.

Earlier this year, Rader said she and Tran were friends for 11 years, but disagreed over the direction of Smart Company Magazine and couldn't work out an amicable end to their business partnership.

She said RidgeRunner had 51 percent control to Tran's 49 percent.

Both sides have said there was no written operating agreement.

RidgeRunner also publishes Hagerstown: The Best of Life in Washington County & Beyond and niche publications.

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