Gregory Tomko recently won an OSCAR for his stellar performance, but no one is confusing him with Hollywood royalty. Except, it would seem, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Tomko was awarded his OSCAR back in December by his Raleigh-based employer, Alliance of Professionals & Consultants. He won a wooden plaque and a trip to the Caribbean for his outstanding work on behalf of client IBM.
"I do not have the notoriety nor the public status" of a movie star, noted the 57-year-old consultant, who lives in Arizona.
But The Academy -- the group that honored "The Artist" with five Oscars -- is worried Alliance's OSCARs might diminish the Oscars won by Meryl Streep and other Hollywood luminaries.
For the past three years Alliance has given out an OSCAR, which stands for Outstanding Service to Client -- Award & Recognition. The company even went to the trouble of obtaining a trademark on the OSCAR name from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Academy was not impressed.
In December it wrote Alliance saying it wouldn't permit its Oscar "to be confused with awards or services offered by others." When Alliance rebuffed the Academy's demand to stop handing out OSCARs, the Academy petitioned the patent office to cancel Alliance's trademark.
Academy officials couldn't be reached for comment.
But Alliance, which has 750 employees who work in 37 states and Canada, apparently is familiar with the 1960 film "David & Goliath" starring Orson Welles -- an Oscar winner for "Citizen Kane." The company isn't backing down.
"We have a legal trademark on that term," said Troy Roberts, chief operating officer, who made a point of not watching the Oscar telecast Sunday. "It is specific to our industry and what we are doing. It really shouldn't be confused" with the Academy Awards.