Geekview: Cheeky Coverage of Recent Intellectual Property News

Posted by | February 11, 2013 | Geekview IP recap | No Comments

Tanning causes cancer . . . and court cases.

Gym, Tanning, Laundry or Sweat, Cancer, Soap (still with Exclusive DVD!)? While we have Jersey Shore to thank for confirming the lack of any correlation between skill and fame, they nailed guido marketing and cornered the college market. At the same time, they’re hammering nails into the coffins of millions of viewers by glamorizing tanning. Though the show ended with the Mayan Calendar (weren’t they surprised on December 22?!), the merchandising continues. And, it continues to harm! So says the Skin Cancer Foundation, which is taking on Jersey Shore to remain the primary promoter of skin cancer. Kidding! Quite the opposite, the Skin Cancer Foundation recently issued a press release “Urging the FTC to Investigate MTV’s Promotion of Hazardous and Potentially Deadly Behavior.” Um, isn’t hazardous behavior the whole point? MTV is like an entire channel devoted to “Do Not Attempt This at Home.” But ignore for a second MTV’s present business model, just like the Foundation did when it filed its FTC Complaint against Jersey Shore for promoting tanning, which causes skin cancer. The Foundation claims that MTV’s tanning glamorizing ways violate Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive trade practices. The Complaint asks the FTC to require MTV to:

“clearly and conspicuously disclose the health risks associated with indoor and outdoor tanning before each [rerun] of the Jersey Show episodes, on the MTV website for the Jersey Shore, and/or before the commercials and trailers for the Jersey Shore, in all promotions for the Jersey Shore, in all sales of “Gym, Tanning, Laundry merchandise, in all electronic games related to the Jersey Shore involving tanning or which promote the act of tanning.” 

Yup. And yet, this doesn’t come close to cornering the market on recent celebrity-related IP lunacy . . . 

A dopey lawsuit over Armstrong’s doping.

Sure, Lance Armstrong isn’t as strong as we all thought. So sue him! Oh, wait. Somebody already did. Rob Stutzman & Jonathan Wheeler filed suit not only against Lance Armstrong, but also against his publishers.  And once those wheels of litigation got turning, they thought why not invite everyone who bought Armstrong’s books, “It’s Not About The Bike,” and “Every Second Counts” to join in on the fun? The class action lawsuit seeks damages for false advertisingnegligent misrepresentation, fraud and deceit since the books contain lies about Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing substances. Holy hell! If dishonest biographies are a cause of action, we may as well start converting libraries into courthouses now. Now there’s a thought! Maybe Lance Armstrong can serve as the Chairperson of the Books-to-Barristers(TM) community service project and turn the corner towards an honest living after years and years of fraud and deceit. Armstrong isn’t the only celebrity rolling in fraud and deceit . . . 

Marilyn Manson seeks help from . . . court?!

Marilyn Manson is a mysterious man. He seems like the type of guy you’d want to avoid upsetting at all costs. He models morose makeup, belts out boisterous ballads & culls continual controversy. He is not, however, a cat killing Nazi. And he doesn’t hate black people. Although that’s not what his fake ex-fiance, Yolanda Tharpe, would have you believe. Tharpe told the gossip press that she was engaged to Manson, who broke it off after realizing Tharpe is black. The two have never, met according to the lawsuit filed by Manson (whose real name is Brian Warner). The press has broadcast Ms. Tharpe’s fantasies about Manson, causing him hurt feelings and a sex change, if we are to believe the 25th line of his lawsuit:

[framed_box] 25. As a proximate result of the [public accusations made by Thorpe], Warner [aka Manson] has suffered loss of her reputation, mortification, and hurt feelings, all to her general damage. [/framed_box]

The lawsuit continues:

[framed_box] By repeatedly using Warner’s name in public announcements, press releases, interviews, and statements disseminated worldwide, frequently through untraceable gossip websites, Tharpe has been improperly trading on Warner’s fame, recognition and goodwill in order to gain personal profit, including but not limited to, by generating unearned and undeserved publicity for herself and the celebrity she aspires to, as well as the career she claims to have as a musician, occult filmmaker and actress . . . Tharpe acted with willful and conscious disregard of Warner’s rights and interests with the intent to benefit Tharpe, and with the intent to harass and oppress Warner . . . [/framed_box]

Manson asks the court to order Tharpe to stop lying about him to the press and to pay monetary damages for the anguish she caused him. Manson has this one in the bag, but unless he too is delusional he won’t be holding out hope for actually collecting any cash. Al Gore’s company on the other hand, got $500 million for Current TV, of which he gets to keep $70mm . . .

Gore, oil, slick.

Is Al Gore guilty of false advertising? Watch as he smoothly slips by Stewart’s sustainability suggestions, leaving me to wonder . . .  is climate change really of Current concern? After all, the poster boy for climate change just sold his media company to an oil baron. Or did he? Yes, he did. Al Gore is the co-founder and Chairman of Current TV, which Al Jazeera, a Qatar based media company reportedly bought in January for $500 million. No big deal, except Qatar is covered in oil and gas –the very evils Al Gore warned us all against in An Inconvenient TruthQatar has the highest per capita carbon emissions of any country anywhere: a whopping 2.5 times greater than in the U.S.! How is it even possible to consume more natural resources than we Americans do? Qataris must be cooking with crude oil instead of butter & olive oil, causing them to fart natural gas. While Leon Kaye reminded us that Gore also receives annual income from mining leases on his land — as reported by the New York Times back in 2000 — that doesn’t make his Current sale any less hypocritical.  And dodging the issue like Knight Rider & Kitt just makes matters worse. So much worse.  Having convinced so many of us to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of our actions, Gore now puts not only his own credibility on the line but also that of the greater environmental movement. Few doubt that the sale will make Current better at its job of delivering news, but the questions remains — how do you get all that oil covered money clean? 

Fact is stranger than fiction, by far. When you advertise fiction as fact you risk being sued for false advertising and no matter what the facts, the only ones who win in court are the lawyers.

About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.

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