Jared Leto's reported sci-fi anthology project with Jerrick Media has roped him into a lawsuit Penthouse is filing to protect the intellectual property of its late founder, Bob Guccione.
The adult magazine says Leto and his reported business partners are knowingly using trademarks without permission. Penthouse Global Media is suing Jerrick Media; its principals, Jeremy Frommer and Rick Schwartz; and Leto for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, among other claims. (The complaint is posted in full below.)
In the late 1970s, Guccione produced Caligula, which the suit calls "a cult classic that blends ancient Roman history with erotica and stars luminaries including Helen Mirren and Peter O'Toole."
Three decades later, Frommer bought at an auction erotic photography, films and historical documents, among other things associated with Guccione and Penthouse. He then began reselling those and other related items online, according to the complaint, and allowing the public to view Caligula for a fee. That triggered the first round of this fight in bankruptcy court in 2013, but the parties mutually dismissed their claims without prejudice.
Now, Penthouse claims defendants are again offering Caligula for sale or rental — this time through Vimeo.com.
The lawsuit also targets the defendants' online magazine, Omni Media, which allegedly infringes on trademarks for Guccione's Omni science-fiction magazine.
"Despite knowing of the existence of the registered OMNI Marks, and despite being denied registration of Omni Reboot, Defendants nonetheless proceeded to willfully and blatantly infringe on the OMNI Marks by operating an online magazine at https://omni.media, which it refers to as OMNI Reboot, that not only uses the OMNI Marks in connection with the publication of an online magazine featuring science and science fiction topics, but also contains archival material from the original OMNI magazine, including magazine articles and reproductions of OMNI magazine covers, all without the permission or consent of Penthouse," writes Penthouse attorney Caroline Mankey in a complaint filed Thursday.
Leto is dragged into the fray because of media reports that he's partnering with Jerrick Media to produce original content using the Omni trademarks, including a futuristic television anthology.
Penthouse Global Media is seeking not only damages but also an injunction to keep defendants from using the Caligula and Omni marks and an order that all materials bearing those marks be delivered up and destroyed.
Jerrick issued a statement Friday in response to the lawsuit: "The Company believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend against it." A rep for Leto did not immediately respond to a request for comment.