Hollywood Docket: 'Twilight' Trademarks; ESPN Lawsuit; 50 Cent Mixtape
A roundup of entertainment law news including the Conan Doyle estate objecting to "Sherlock Gnomes" and a Texas man objecting to the 1989 film "Tango & Cash."
Summit Entertainment has scored a round in an ongoing trademark dispute with Bath & Body Works over a line of "Twilight" fragrances.
The lawsuit has been ongoing for three years now, and BBW sought declaratory relief to establish its rights to use "Twilight Woods" and "Twilight Crush" and that it would not infringe or tarnish the marks of the producer of the blockbuster 2008 film.
On March 21, U.S. District Judge George Daniels denied a motion for summary judgment filed by BBW.
In his opinion, the New York federal judge writes that Summit has presented significant evidence that its marks are strong, and that viewing the evidence in Summit's favor, a reasonable jury could conclude similarity in trade dress and consumer confusion as to the source of the cosmetics. The judge also says that a jury could conclude that BBW intended to associate itself with Twilight.
Notwithstanding a potential settlement, the case appears headed to trial.
In other entertainment law news:
- Earlier this month, photographer Brian Masck kept his lawsuit alive against Sports Illustrated for allegedly infringing his iconic 1991 photo of former University of Michigan football superstar Desmond Howard doing a "Heisman" pose during a game. Now comes the follow-up lawsuit. On Monday, he filed a new copyright infringement lawsuit against ESPN. The complaint, long on backstory, says "ESPN The Magazine did everything SI did, but the photo appeared only once, in the last print appearance of the photograph, in the issue dated October 3, 2012."
- 50 Cent has gotten a partial victory in a lawsuit brought against a DJ who ran hip-hop website WorldStarHipHop.com. The main controversy in the lawsuit had to do with the website's masthead featuring an image of the rapper. In a ruling on Monday, a federal judge granted the hip-hop star summary judgment on copyright and right of publicity claims. In doing so, the judge rejected affirmative defenses including fair use. According to the ruling, "Defendants provide no authority to support the fair use of a celebrity’s image or likeness. This is not surprising, as a celebrity’s image, standing alone, only evokes that celebrity’s persona. Jackson’s image does not, by itself, describe anything about Defendants’ website."
- Much has been made of an Illinois federal judge's decision at the end of last year that pretty much put most of what we know about the Sherlock Holmes character in the public domain. The case is now on appeal, and the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle figures to make some interesting arguments. Meanwhile, the estate has signaled that it intends to protect its trademarks going forward. Case in point: Last week, the estate opposed an attempt by Rocket Pictures to register "Sherlock Gnomes." Rocket intends Sherlock Gnomes to be the follow-up to its 2011 computer animated feature Gnomeo & Juliet. The Conan Doyle estate says it will dilute their own hold on Sherlock Holmes. Here's the papers filed with the Trademark Office.
- Finally today comes a ruling from a Texas judge. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that the 1989 film Tango & Cash, starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, defamed him because Russell's character appeared in the movie "dressed as a woman with lipstick, a woman's miniskirt, and woman's high heel shoes." The plaintiff says his teenage friends teased him because he shares the same first name ("Gabriel") as Russell's character. Of course, the claim goes nowhere. The judge fails to find any statement "of and concerning the plaintiff," and the claim was also barred by the statute of limitations.