Hollywood Studios Sue Ticket Broker for Offering Access to Private Events

Disney, NBCUniversal, Universal, Warner Bros. and Sony claim infringement of intellectual property and inducement of trespass.
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Mads Mikkelsen and Felicity Jones at the premiere of 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'

The biggest studios in town are looking to keep strangers out of private events, suing an infamous ticketbroker for selling tickets to screenings, openings and tapings.

In California federal court, Disney, NBCUniversal, Universal, Warner Bros. and Sony have teamed up in a legal action against Hollywood Entertainment Group, VIP Concierge and Craig Banaszewki. The defendants have previously been sued for offering tickets to the Academy Awards and the Grammys. In prior actions, Banaszewki has agreed to a permanent injunction.

This time, the studios are asserting trademark and copyright laws for charging thousands of dollars to access to their soirées. 

"In addition to the obvious infringements, Defendants occasionally succeed in gaining access for uninvited and unvetted individuals, which heightens the risks of unauthorized videorecording and the physical security of Plaintiffs’ invited guests, and causes Plaintiffs to suffer harm to their goodwill and reputation," states the complaint (read here).

The events are described as "invitation-only" where invitees are given a "non-transferable pass." The tickets also proclaim, "This pass is a revocable license good only for admission of the original Pass Holder to this event. It may not be sold or offered for sale and has no cash value."

The plaintiffs allege that Banaszewki's companies have advertised packages for access to events like the Radio Disney Music Awards; premieres of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Transcendence and Ghostbusters; and tapings for shows including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live and The Big Bang Theory. It also is claimed that defendants are infringing intellectual property like a teaser one-sheet of Doctor Strange and a spoken-text screenplay of Star Wars.

The studios say they have repeatedly put the defendants on warning, and that VIP Concierge continues to disregard their rights. In addition to intellectual property claims, the lawsuit also asserts unfair or deceptive trade practices as well as inducement of trespass. Represented by attorney Linda Burrow, the plaintiffs demand injunctive relief and punitive damages.

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