30
Apr/08

Marvel v TechCrunch re Screening of Iron Man


Marvel sends TechCrunch a demand letter saying ‘don’t print the demand letter.’
UPDATE: The email is up.
Background: TechCrunch used the theater’s group sales to purchase all the seats for a showing and then invited its readership to the screening. Marvel doesn’t identify a legal basis for its demand but advises that TechCrunch may not ‘exhibt, sell tickets to or invite the public’ to the screening.
Well, TechCrunch is not selling tickets, it’s not exhibiting, and, in the words of my colleague Paul Fakler, under the Copyright Act there’s no exclusive right to invite the public.
I suppose that you could posit a fact pattern where somebody gives away a branded product in a promotion in such a way as to deceive the public that he/she was endorsed by the brand owner.
But (use deep movie trailer announcer voice here) IN A WORLD where people give away iPods at trade shows all the time (and people don’t read that as endorsement), I will speculate in general, (not having reviewed all of TechCrunch’s promotions of this event,) that to be actionable as false endorsement, the language would have to be closer to ‘false on its face’ as in “Join TechCrunch and Marvel at a screening . . .” than to language that theoretically implies an endorsement (“Join TechCrunch at a screening of Iron Man.”).
Differing views glady accepted at marty at symbol schwimmerlegal dot com.
Still in all, can’t wait to see Iron Man.
2d Update: Goodness Prevails, Minus $2000 In Legal Fees.

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