'Robocop' Studio Sued After Threatening Security Firm

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.

RoboCopp, LLC, a company that specializes in personal security, is going into battle with MGM subsidiary Orion Pictures, the rights-holder of the Robocop film franchise. On Monday, RoboCopp sought a declaratory judgment of non-infringement from a California federal judge.

The move follows a Sept. 20 warning letter sent by Orion's attorney, Andrew Thomas at Jenner & Block.

"Your choice of the term 'RoboCopp' as the brand name for a high-tech, electronically engineered product designed to fight crime was clearly made by design as a transparent attempt to trade on the high-profile brand recognition of Orion's ROBOCOP marks," states the letter. "As you surely know, the ROBOCOP entertainment franchise has been extremely successful worldwide, and includes four motion pictures, four television series, five video games, and an extensive array of memorabilia, merchandise, and other products — all centered around a high-tech crime-fighting machine."

The letter goes on to crow about the $242.7 million grossed by the 2014 reboot, five Saturn Awards and how the franchise "indisputably has been an integral part of American pop culture over the last 30 years."

Orion is suggesting that use of RoboCOPP is a violation of trademarks that is likely to confuse consumers.

"The fact that you have used a stylized 'robot' image in marketing your security device is further evidence of your intention to promote an association between your product and the crime-fighting machine depicted in Orion's RoboCop films, television programs, video games, and related products," adds the letter.

The cease-and-desist demand has now been met with a federal lawsuit that RoboCopp has come out with a sound grenade featured on the Today Show, CNN, CBS and numerous print publications. The product emits a loud siren when activated.

Here, RoboCopp is sounding the alarm on what it sees as an over-vigilant trademark holder.

"ROBOCOPP has a good faith belief that it is not infringing Orion's trademarks or otherwise violating the Lanham Act," states the complaint. "ROBOCOPP’s products are unrelated to the entertainment industry, and unrelated to any products marketed by Orion. ROBOCOPP’s products and trademarks have gained fame and recognition within the field of personal security. Consumers associate ROBOCOPP’s brand with ROBOCOPP’s innovative personal security devices. ROBOCOPP’s branding does not include any references to Orion or Orion’s products. Orion does not allege that consumer confusion has already occurred, and ROBOCOPP believes that consumer confusion is not likely to occur as between its products and Orion’s products."

Here's the full complaint.