VINCE’S NOTE: Every week, a flurry of lawsuits blows through the entertainment industry. I can offer my lay perspective, but given that so many avid FilmDrunk readers are also legal professionals (why, it’s almost as if those people have a lot of down time), I thought I’d ask one to give us the rundown of entertainment lawsuits. Our representative, an actual lawyer, asks to be known only as Buttockus Finch, Esq. I’ve chosen to represent him as a dog wearing a tuxedo, for obvious reasons (the main being that Danger Guerrero would never have forgiven me for calling him “Franklin N. Bash.”).
Why hello there! As the only attorney in HollyWEIRD who isn’t currently engaged in litigation against this site, I have been asked to bring you the entertainment legal news you didn’t know you needed. Because would it kill you to go five minutes without dick jokes, that’s why. And now the law, like your mom, gets laid down:
Plaintiff claims that James Cameron plagiarized his idea for Avatar.
Cameron blows up plaintiff’s home tree.
What It Is
Former Cameron employee Eric Ryder (known to Joe Sinclitico as “Beef”) said that his erstwhile boss ganked the idea for the highest-grossing movie ever from Ryder’s “environmentally themed movie script called ‘K.R.Z. 2068.'” The judge disagreed and dismissed the suit.
Seems about right.
I Went To Grad School For This Shit Analysis
Don’t tell a judge that your great idea had the title “K.R.Z. 2068.” If you’re going to accuse somebody else of theft, you should not make it seem like you plagiarized a license plate. More importantly, it makes no sense to claim that you had the original idea behind Avatar. There *was* no original idea behind Avatar. It was unabashedly Dances With Ferngully. Screenwriters pad their resumes by bragging that they had nothing to do with Avatar. But the story had almost nothing to do with the movie’s success—the plot for that fucker was just the hanger for a pretty cool-looking suit.
Cameron, in victory, comes across as kind of a putz. “Sadly, it seems that whenever a successful motion picture is produced, there are people who try to ‘get rich quick’ by claiming their ideas were used.” Kind of no, Jim—as we learned from the “Trouble With the Curve” case, people sue over unsuccessful movies too. The plaintiffs in these things tend to honestly believe that they’ve been wronged—people get snippy if they feel like an idea of theirs has been taken, even if it’s a Tweet. But studios, kind of to their credit, try to keep unsolicited ideas from getting anywhere near them, so that these things occur as seldom as possible.
JC’s money quote: “‘Avatar’ was my most personal film.” Yup. Blue simians tailf*cking—just like you lived it, my dude.
Cameron’s implication—the kneejerk position of the filmmakers in these cases—is that infringement suits are the product of disgruntled loners, presumably those living in their moms’ fabled basements and leaving mean YouTube comments under the name Renesmee69. Reality politely disagrees, as we see in…
Exxon accuses the new FXX network of trademark infringement because the “xx” in their logo is likely to “cause confusion” with Exxon and its logo.
The case was just filed, but holy shit, if Exxon wins this I will stop buying their gasoline based on principles I don’t actually have. Of course, they’re an oil company bringing this case in a Texas court, so buckle up.
What It Is
So the FX network (which exhibits movies, thereby making this film-related, shut up), recently split off a side network they named FXX because a) money, somehow, b) they wanted everybody’s DVRs to miss the season premiere of The League and 3) they hired “Beef” Ryder to come up with the name. The day this channel consecutively runs Malcolm X, American History X and xXx is the day I fill up at Exxon. Exxon is saying that the overlapping “XX” in the network logo is problematically similar to what Exxon has in its.
How This is Not Utterly Insane
Trademarks are a legitimately a valuable thing for businesses, and corporations go balls out to protect what’s theirs, whether it be the name, the logo, a symbol, whatever. It’s why the Academy will be on you like white on Congress if you try to market an Oscar-shaped dildo, partly to prevent “tarnishment” (a term of art meaning that you’d make them look bad, but in this situation it is literal, because a gold statue loses its lustre if you jam it in your betrothed’s butt), and partly because they only want actual Oscars shoved up people’s betrothed’s butts. Harley Davidson tried (unsuccessfully) to trademark the sound of its motorcycle, and Jesus Christ read the first half of this sentence again.
So in theory Exxon could have a point.
Like, if a gas station called itself FXX, then theoretically someone might accidentally stop there instead of at Exxon. Because people buy gas for reasons other than convenience and price. But confusing a TV channel with an oil company? You couldn’t even do that with Spike’s greasy ass.
Corporations apparently *are* people and Exxon just suffered blunt cranial trauma. This is goddamn ridiculous. For making me side with Rupert Murdoch, Exxon, eat a bushel of taint (term of art).
Stay litigious, my friends. Deuces.
[all pictures via Getty]