Seth MacFarlane Sued Over 'Ted' Talking Bottle Opener

Michael Cram says his invention has been supremely successful with 10 million units sold and a 'Family Guy' licensing deal. He says a knock-off threatens all that.
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Seth MacFarlane

Outlandish films breed silly merchandise triggering oddball lawsuits like one filed on Wednesday over the special-edition Blu-ray/DVD of Seth MacFarlane’s talking bear romp Ted, which is said to come with a talking bottle opener.

In California federal court, Michael Cram claims ownership of “talking” bottle openers and “talking” beer mugs, which he says have been uber-successful in the marketplace. Doing business as Pacific Productions, Cram says he has licensing deals with more than 61 NCAA schools, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the National Football League, and movie and television studios. What’s more, Cram says he and his product were featured in Ingenious, a biographical film starring Jeremy Renner.

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Cram is now suing MacFarlane, Universal Pictures, Media Rights Capital and Target for allegedly violating the trade dress on his product through the Ted special edition, said to be “packaged with a talking bottle opener that is identical to Plaintiff Product, priced at $25.99.”

The plaintiff’s talking bottle opener is described as having an original plastic handle shape and incorporating no-button activation technology, a single solid color, a single licensed image below the speaker holes, an original circular design of speaker holes, the triggering of sound from pressure and more.

The complaint says that Target has been selling the talking bottle opener since 2002. It has sold 10 million units worldwide through various big-box retailers.

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Cram also says that he has a licensing deal with 20th Century Fox to incorporate Family Guy sounds and images with his product.

“Upon information and belief, Defendants Seth MacFarlane and Fuzzy Door Productions had prior knowledge of Plaintiff’s ownership rights over Plaintiff’s Product as their program, Family Guy, was licensed to Plaintiff,” states the complaint, which also alleges unfair competition and other claims under the Lanham Act.

Cram demands nine times actual damages, an order that defendants pay for corrective advertising, and further relief. He’s represented by Michael Cohen at Cohen IP Group.

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We’ve reached out to Universal and MRC for comment.

The defendants are still facing another lawsuit over Ted from a production company that claims rights to a screenplay featuring a foul-mouthed, womanizing teddy bear. Cram’s lawsuit isn’t the only one over kitsch in entertainment. For example, CBS was sued last year over an NCIS farting hippo puppet.

See the complaint below, with pictures of the talking bottle openers on page eight.

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