'Robocop' Studio Claims Security Firm Is Free-Riding on Its Films

Orion Pictures Corporation

Peter Weller stars as the title character, a cop who is turned into the ultimate crime fighter after a scuffle with local bad guys leaves him legally dead. Like many of the other sci-fi films on this list, 1987’s RoboCop is a tale of dystopia, but it's Paul Verhoeven’s wonderfully satirical brand of dystopia—characterized by media saturation and the privatization of government services. A reboot of the series, from director Jose Padilha, is planned for 2014.

An extra "p" isn't enough to prevent consumers from being confused about "Robocopp," asserts Orion Pictures in California federal court.

The rights holder of the Robocop film franchise is taking on RoboCopp, LLC, a company that specializes in personal security products like a "sound grenade" that emits a loud siren when activated.

In September, RoboCopp filed a lawsuit against Orion, seeking a declaratory judgment of trademark non-infringement. On Monday, Orion returned fire with counterclaims that "RoboCopp" is causing harm through infringement and dilution of its registered marks.

Orion points to how RoboCopp attempted to register its name as a federal trademark only to be refused by a USPTO examiner who concluded Robocopp was too similar to Robocop and that the counterdefendant's security device was “the type of good that would certainly bring to mind the Robocop character and films.”

In its court papers, Orion alleges the similarity is hardly coincidental.

"Counterdefendant’s obvious intention is to free-ride on the world renowned RoboCop films and ROBOCOP Marks by fooling consumers into believing that its infringing products are sponsored, endorsed, produced, or licensed by Orion or are otherwise affiliated with the ROBOCOP Marks and the goods and services marketed and sold using the ROBOCOP Marks," states the studio's court papers.

Orion contends that the security firm hasn't just picked a similar name; RoboCopp is also using a "clean, simple, high-tech, sans-serif font" evocative of its own movie posters, according to the counterclaim, and further allegedly connecting itself to Robocop's depiction of a gritty, militaristic future through the use of the term "grenade."

"In addition, Counterdefendant sells its products with the tagline 'your personal bodyguard,' further enhancing the connection between Counterdefendant and the titular character of the RoboCop Films," states Orion, represented by Andrew Thomas at Jenner & Block. "The RoboCop character in one sense acts as a personal bodyguard for the entire citizenry of Detroit, and Counterdefendant’s 'bodyguard' tagline associates a small hand-held alarm with a full-sized, semi-robotic police officer that could serve as a person’s actual bodyguard."

For its part, Robocopp has asserted in court papers that its products are "unrelated to the entertainment industry" and that "consumer confusion is not likely to occur."

The Robocop studio demands an injunction that includes prohibition of use of Robocopp on Twitter and Facebook, an order directing the security company to engage in corrective advertising, compensatory damages, actual damages, profits, and without sense of irony, an order directing conterdefendent "deliver up for destruction of all merchandise, products, and other tangible items in its possession or under its control that use the ROBOCOP Marks."