Justia.com Opinion Summary: Fortres develops and sells a desktop management program called “Clean Slate” and holds a federally-registered trademark for use of that name to identify “[c]omputer software used to protect public access computers by scouring the computer drive back to its original configuration upon reboot.” When Warner Bros. Entertainment used the words “the clean slate” to describe a hacking program in the movie, The Dark Knight Rises, Fortres experienced a precipitous drop in sales of its software. Fortres sued, alleging that the use of the words “clean slate” in reference to the software in its movie infringed its trademark in violation of Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1114, 1125, and Indiana unfair competition law. The district court dismissed, reasoning that Fortres had not alleged a plausible theory of consumer confusion, upon which all of its claims depend, and that Warner Bros.’ use of the words “the clean slate” was protected by the First Amendment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed without reaching the constitutional question. Juxtaposed against the weakness of all the other relevant factors, the similarity of the marks is not enough to establish confusion. Trademark law protects the source-denoting function of words used in conjunction with goods and services, not the words themselves.
43(b)log discussion here.
Last night I took the family to see ’22 Jump Street’ (“Mindless fun” says The Trademark Blog. “Could have been a lot worse”) and we saw the trailer (above) for “The Interview,” a Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy scheduled for release this fall. The movie appears to be about an attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.
Now, the plot device of an attempt to assassinate a recognizable individual seems to be quite common. Personally, I recommend (the original) “The Day of the Jackal“, about an attempt to assassinate Charles de Gaulle.
The movie hasn’t been released so we don’t know what it says precisely. So we will have to wait and see.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity.