November 19, 2011 3:51pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Music Label Sues Demanding '50/50' Distributors Change Title
A Florida-based music and fashion label is suing Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment, and Mandate Pictures for infringing its trademark on the title of the film, 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen.
Eastland Music Group filed the federal lawsuit on Thursday in Illinois and says it has been using the 50/50 mark since 2000 in connection with entertainment services and products.
As evidence, the plaintiff points to its website, phifty-50.com, which currently has a sign post on its front page adorned with "50/50." A screenshot from five years ago, however, suggests that the sign may have been changed at some point. In 2006, for example, the sign post read, "Phifty 50."
Nevertheless, Eastland says it has a trademark on "Phifty-50" and a common law trademark on "50/50," meaning that the latter was never formally registered but potentially still recognized as intellectual property if it was used continuously during that time. The company says it puts out CDs and DVDs and alleges that Lionsgate's plans to release the film on DVD threatens to harm the recognition and goodwill its marks have earned in the marketplace.
Eastland notes that it sent a request to Lionsgate to stop using the 50/50 mark in September.
The 50/50 film was released later that month by Summit, and the comedy about a man trying to beat his cancer diagnosis earned excellent reviews. The movie has so far grossed nearly $34 million at the box office and is considered a long-shot sleeper for an Oscar nomination.
But the title is allegedly causing consumer confusion, so Eastland is demanding a permanent injunction against use of the title, the destruction of all products where "50-50" is affixed, and an award of all of the film's sales and revenues as a result of the alleged infringement.
The defendants haven't yet responded to requests for comment.