White House Correspondents' Association Cracks Down on Oscar-Style Gift Lounge

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Nicole Kidman is among the celebrity guests attending Saturday's dinner.

A lawyer for the group threatens legal action against LA-based GBK Productions for setting up a celebrity swag suite for the weekend event.

The White House Correspondents' Association is threatening legal action against an LA-based marketing firm for "unauthorized" use of its name in promoting a gift lounge around Saturday's annual dinner.

Politico's Mike Allen reported Tuesday that George A. Lehner, an attorney for the group, has issued a four-page letter to GBK Productions reprimanding the company for characterizing the suite -- which is also being organized by The Creative Coalition -- in an email to media as "GBK & The Creative Coalition White House Correspondence [sic] Weekend Gift Lounge."

"Such deceptive advertising/promotion is likely to result in consumer confusion and a false belief by the public that your event is officially sanctioned, authorized or approved by the WCHA, when in fact it is not," Lehner wrote in his Monday missive. "Our client cannot risk the damage to its reputation by continuing to permit unauthorized events to take place using the WCHA Marks without proper consent."

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The letter requested that the company amend the situation or risk a federal lawsuit and injunctions over trademark infringement and unfair competition and false advertising. It gave the company a deadline of "close of business" on Wednesday to provide written confirmation agreeing "to take reasonable steps to correct its advertising/refrain from future infringing use of the trademarks so as to ensure that confusion by the public does not occur."

(View a copy of the letter at the link.)

Each year, the White House Correspondents' dinner attracts a starry mix of boldfaced names in the realms of politics, media and celebrity. Among the 2013 guests slated for the so-called "nerd prom": Nicole Kidman, Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey KatzenbergSteven Spielberg and Scarlett Johansson. Adding to the celebrity quotient, Conan O'Brien was tapped to host.

The GBK/Creative Coalition gift lounge, which is targeted toward celebrities, boasts swag from such brands as the St. Regis Bora Bora, Made by Survivors handmade jewelry and Lovelinks by Aagaard jewelry, among other vendors.

Despite the previous touting of a "White House Correspondence Weekend Gift Lounge," Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk told Politico there is no connection between the swag suite and the dinner. Bronk said the "Thank You Lounge" is related to the group's Arts Advocacy Day promoting arts and education and that merchants had made donations to the Coalition.