Viacom vs. The Situation: Who Owns GTL?

A "Jersey Shore" catfight is brewing far from Seaside Heights.

MTV owner Viacom has taken on Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino over trademarks to his catchphrases on the hit show. Sorrentino's deal with Shore producer 495 Productions, which pays him a reported $2 million a season, denies him "the right to issue T-shirts featuring [Sorrentino's] quotes from the series," according to trademark-opposition documents filed Aug. 15 by Viacom. Nonetheless, his company with his brother, MPS Entertainment, has sought to capitalize on such phrases as "GTL" (Gym, Tan, Laundry) and "Twinning" (having a threesome with twins -- a play on Charlie Sheen's catchphrase "Winning"). MPS has inked deals for a clothing line with Dilligaf, endorsements with VitaminWater and Reebok and a "GTL" app on iTunes. Sorrentino made about $5 million in 2010 and became so protective of his sloganeering empire that in November, he sued Abercrombie & Fitch for selling T-shirts with the words "The Fitchuation" and "GTL … You Know the Deal." But Viacom, which has licensed trademarks from the show to Zazzle, offers Shore shirts for sale on MTV's website and plans to use "Twinning" on baseball caps. "Therefore, Viacom is the rightful owner of all rights in and to the 'TWINNING' mark and slogan," the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board was told. Viacom also claims all of Sorrentino's other catchphrases.

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