S.D. Tex

Fictional, but Protectable: Court Nixes “The Krusty Krab” Restaurant on Trademark Grounds

Summary Judgment Order, Viacom International Inc. v. IJR Capital Investments, LLC, S.D. Tex. (January 11, 2017) (Judge Gray Miller) 

The Emmy nominations have been announced, and the fall television season is just weeks away. Accordingly, we thought it would be fun to revisit an interesting trademark ruling from earlier this year that still seems timely given these events.

With the rise of social media, mobile phone applications and viral marketing, cross-overs between the real world and the fictional world of T.V. shows, movies and video games, are becoming increasingly commonplace. To promote the upcoming season of its popular T.V. show Better Call Saul, for example, AMC created actual Los Pollos Hermanos fast-food restaurants in cities across the U.S.  Similarly, in the summer of 2006, ABC and the creators of Lost created an alternative reality game called The Lost Experience that included such disparate activities as advertisements of fictional companies on a variety of ABC programs and advertising sponsor websites, the publication under a pseudonym of a best-selling mystery novel called “Bad Twin,” a live disruption at San Diego’s Comic-Con by a fictional protagonist named Rachel Blake trying to unravel some of Lost’s mysteries, and the world-wide sale at special locations of fictional “Apollo” candy bars that had been featured in the show.  As these examples reflect, the names and likeliness of fictional locations, objects, and characters can represent significant and valuable components of a company’s intellectual property rights. READ MORE