Remember back in late March, early April, when Joe Exotic was the talk of the town?
“Tiger King” memes dominated the Internet, and it was the first time everyone in the world actually agreed on something—Carole Baskin killed her husband and fed him to the tigers. The Carole Baskin TikTok dance was the new craze, and the pandemic was the perfect opportunity to binge watch the 8-episode docuseries.
According to NME, Hollywood Weekly Magazine claims to have coined the phrase “Tiger King” in reference to Exotic seven years ago, and they’re suing Netflix, CBS Studios, Paramount, and Imagine Television for trademark and copyright infringement, unfair business practices, and unjust enrichment.
However, HWM waited until July 2, 2020 to file a trademark application for “The Tiger King.”
With a serious “no gossip” policy in place, the magazine claims their reputation has been hurt due to the “unwanted association with the series.”. NME states the publication “is seeking damages and disgorgement of profits, as well as the destruction of the series and all related advertising.”
The wholesome brand is globally well-known, distributed in 300 locations across the U.S. and 210 in other countries worldwide. HWM’s advertisers are troubled by the perceived connection between the magazine and the “tawdry television program.”
Attorney Michael F. Frank writes in the complaint (via The Hollywood Reporter), “Recently after the Series was distributed for streaming, Plaintiffs for the first time were receiving comments from advertisers as to when HWM became a tabloid gossip magazine when the fundamental pillar of HWM is and always has been ‘No Gossip, Strictly Entertainment’ and always highly respected and well-known for this brand.”
Frank continues, “The Series literally uses the [Tiger King mark] in its title, throughout the video, and then even shows issues of the HWM Publication itself within the video Series as well showing that they knew about it, accessed it, had access to it, and were even using it in the Series itself, thus establishing the [mark] was neither separately created nor developed by Defendants.”
What do you think of the lawsuit?
While we wait for the case to unfold, Animal Planet’s new Tiger King documentary “Surviving Joe Exotic”, premiers July 25th. Intellectual Property lawyers may now start your engines.