The Buffalo, N.Y., PBS affiliate WNED has filed a federal complaint against LeVar Burton, the iconic host of the children’s series “Reading Rainbow,” for allegedly misusing trademarks to promote his children’s library mobile app. The complaint says the show’s iconic phrases such as “…but you don’t have to take my word for it,” are being exploited by the former host.

The Western New York Public Broadcasting Association filed the lawsuit Friday in the Southern District of New York, accusing Burton of copyright infringement, conversion, cybersquatting, breach of contract and breach of implied covenant of good faith among several allegations.

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Burton and his company RRKidz are the named defendants in the lawsuit stemming from a 2011 license they allegedly obtained from WNED. The lawsuit centers on allegations he misused several “Reading Rainbow” trademarks for his “Skybrary by Reading Rainbow” app and podcast.

WNED identified itself as a co-creator of “Reading Rainbow,” and describes having exclusive rights to the series’ associated intellectual property, logo and

The complaint claims exclusive rights over some of the famous catchphrases and recurring segments used in the show and says Burton has repeatedly repurposed and “exploited” intellectual property for his own gain. Included are the iconic “Reading Rainbow” bits such as, “…but you don’t have to take my word for it,” and the “Field Trips” in which Burton visits locations or themes in a selected children’s book.

Burton and RRKidz launched the “Skybrary by Reading Rainbow” subscription-based online library of children’s books in May 2015. The complaint notes its use of “field trips” and clips from the show that provide no links back or revenue streams to WNED. The mobile app’s current subscription cost is $9.99 per month.

The PBS affiliate claims it chose to terminate its licensing with Burton after the development of the mobile app and that that licensed rights should have reverted back to WNED at that time.

The complaint also lists several instances over the years in which Burton has attempted to “bring back Reading Rainbow” through tweets and self-promotional actions.

The complaint reads: “On or about February 18, 2009, LeVar Burton tweeted: “Want y’all to know that I’m seriously moving forward with an idea for a new version of a Reading Rainbow like show. Webisodes for adults.”

“On or about March 19, 2010, Levar Burton used his personal Twitter feed to announce that “Reading Rainbow 2.0 is in the works! Stay tuned for more info. But, you don’t have to…”

WNED also cites Burton’s Feb. 11, 2010 appearance as a keynote speaker at MacWorld Expo 2010, where he allegedly told the audience “he was planning to bring Reading Rainbow back via the Internet later that year.”

“Reading Rainbow” aired its last episode in 2006 and reruns aired until 2009. In a 2013 interview with Larry King, Burton blamed “misguided” federal funding changes under then-President George W. Bush for the discontinuation of the show. 

RRKidz Inc. did not immediately respond to International Business Times' request for comment on the ongoing legal action.