Indiana makes the news! The Federal Court decided that a real product cannot sue for trademark infringement when a feature film includes a similarly named product in the movie. There is no misappropriation.
In last summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, Selina Kyle spent most of the movie looking for a way to get rid of her criminal past. She was promised a “clean slate” program that would erase her name and record from every criminal database in the world. It turns out a company called Fortres Grand has been selling a computer program called “Clean Slate” since 2000. Their software was designed to wipe out a users internet history. When they saw “clean slate” referenced in The Dark Knight Rises they decided to sue Warner Bros., however things did not go their way in court. THR reports:
As Indiana federal judge Philip Simon puts the key question in setting up his ruling, “Is it trademark infringement if a fictional company or product in a movie or television drama bears the same name or brand as a real company or product?” Judge Simon answers, No!
“Warner Bros. ‘clean slate’ software only exists in the fictional world of Gotham; it does not exist in reality. This may seem to be a small point, but it has big ramifications for the consumer confusion analysis, which become apparent once you realize the argument that Fortres Grand has not made – and cannot make.”
Judge Simon also accepts Warner Bros.’ point that there can be no confusion of the source of origin because of the business it is in. The studio argued, ““Plaintiff is not in the motion picture business, and it would be absurd to think that customers buy tickets to The Dark Knight Rises or purchase the DVD/Blu-ray because of a perceived association of the Film with Fortres Grand’s products.”
When a movie makes over $1 billion at the box office alone, everyone thinks they deserve a piece of it. For all you law nerds, check out the official ruling here.