"Naked Cowboy" Wins Court Shoot-Out with Candy Cowboy
Areas of Focus | 2008/06/25 16:05

A ruling in a trademark infringement case filed by a New York street entertainer who performs as “The Naked Cowboy” is another indication that judges may be taking parodies too seriously when the parody conveys a commercial message.

Robert Burck alleged an animated cartoon advertisement that featured a blue M&M dressed “exactly like The Naked Cowboy” violated the Lanham Act, which prohibits a false endorsement of a product or service by a real person. The ad ran on oversized billboards in Times Square, where Burck plies his trade, dressed only in a white cowboy hat, cowboy boots and underpants.

M&M's manufacturer Mars, Inc. argued that no consumer would be likely to confuse its parody as an endorsement of its product by Burck. The cowboy M&M, it said, is “part of a series of parodies of the 'New York City experience,'” which also portrays an M&M as King Kong climbing the Empire State Building.

But U.S. District Judge Denny Chin denied Mars' motion to dismiss, finding factual issues as to whether the M&M Cowboy characters are a parody of Burck's creation.

“Some consumers, as defendants argue, may view the the M&M Cowboy characters as part of a larger work depicting New York scenes and parodying famous New York characters,” he said in a June 23 opinion. But, he continued,

other consumers may mistakenly believe that The Naked Cowboy himself endorsed the copying of his “trademarked likeness” because the M&M Cowboy characters appear in a commercial setting.

Chin's ruling is quite similar to that of a Los Angeles judge who ruled in December 2007 that Paris Hilton could sue Hallmark Cards over its humorous use of her likeness and “That's Hot” catchphrase on a greeting card.

“[T]he potential exists that the card is sufficiently evocative of an image Hilton has presented of herself that Hallmark is capitalizing on her notoriety,” U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson concluded.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has noted that “the cry of 'parody!' does not magically fend off otherwise legitimate legitimate claims of trademark infringement or dilution. There are confusing parodies and non-confusing parodies.” Dr. Seuss Enterprises v. Penguin Books, 109 F.3d 1394 (1997).

But parodies which have a commercial purpose should be protected under the First Amendment if the use of a trademark “was not specifically misleading as to sponsorship or endorsement.” In neither the Burck nor Hilton parodies is there any specific statement that the “real person” endorsed a product and judges are giving too much latitude to plaintiffs by ignoring that requirement.

Chin did dismiss Burck's publicity rights claim, in part because New York's "privacy statutes were not intended to protect a trademarked, costumed character publicly performed by a person."



[PREV] [1] ..[1810][1811][1812][1813][1814][1815][1816][1817][1818].. [1945] [NEXT]
All
Headline Legal News
Legal Topics
Legal Business
Attorney News
Court News
Court Watch
Areas of Focus
Legal Interview
Opinions
Court says Baltimore police could..
Court rules Italy's Berlusconi ca..
Program offering chance to avoid ..
Court: Skechers shoe nearly ident..
Court upholds convictions of 2012..
Olivia de Havilland asks court to..
Court asked to toss more cases ti..
Court to hear challenge to Winona..
Analysis: Voter ID Fight Testing ..
Raptors president fined $25K for ..
Law firm hired to investigate eco..
Arkansas officials ask court to k..
Bakery appeals to UK Supreme Cour..
Man tests positive for drugs whil..
Supreme Court to hear appeal of M..
Trump travel ban is focus of Supr..
Court won't reconsider making pub..
Supreme Court upholds challenged ..
Lake County courts to switch to o..
Judge fights for job after admitt..




Santa Ana Workers' Compensation Lawyers
www.gentryashtonlaw.com
Fort Washington Employment Law Firm
Attorney Marc E. Weinstein
www.meweinsteinlaw.com
China trademark registration lawyer
www.ctplo.com
Chicago Truck Drivers Lawyer
Chicago Workers' Comp Attorneys
www.krol-law.com
San Francisco Trademark Lawyer
San Francisco Copyright Lawyer
www.onulawfirm.com
Lorain Elyria Divorce Lawyer
www.loraindivorceattorney.com
Chicago Business Law Attorney
Corporate Litigation Attorneys
www.rothlawgroup.com
Houston Estate Administration Lawyer
www.trishaenglishlaw.com
Car Accidents Attorneys
New Rochelle Personal Injury
www.kboattorneys.com
Surry County Criminal Defense Lawyers
Yadkin County Family Law Attorneys
www.dirussolaw.com
St. Louis Missouri Criminal Defense Lawyer
St. Charles DUI Attorney
www.lynchlawonline.com
Connecticut Special Education Lawyer
www.fortelawgroup.com
Law Firm Web Design Templates
Lawyer Website Templates
www.webpromo.com
   Legal Resource
Headline Legal News for You to Reach America's Best Legal Professionals. The latest legal news and information - Law Firm, Lawyer and Legal Professional news in the Media.
 
 
 
Copyright © ClickTheLaw.com. All Rights Reserved. The content contained on the web site has been prepared by Click The Law. as a service to the internet community and is not intended to constitute legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case or circumstance. By using the www.clickthelaw.com you agree to be bound by these Terms & Conditions.

Law Firm Website Design by Lawyer Website Design Blog - Lawyer Web Site Design That Works