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Washed Up On The 'Jersey Shore': The 'Original DJ Paulie' Sues DJ Pauly D

from the forty-three-years-and-still-stuck-in-connecticut dept

Via Overlawyered comes the news that a battle royale between two DJ Paulies is coming to a head. Unfortunately for those of us who sat through such seminal DJ-centric films as Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogalo, this battle will be taking place in an uptight courtroom rather than in a grafitti-ridden subway stop or something.

The trademark infringement claim centers on one Paul Lis, who until recently, was the premier DJ Paulie/Pauly in the state of Connecticut:

Paul Lis of South Windsor, Conn., said he spent 40 years building up a reputation as the region’s "DJ Paulie" before DelVecchio began calling himself "DJ Pauly D" on television. . . .

"He formally trademarked the name ‘DJ Paulie’ and then came the ‘Jersey Shore’ which basically wiped him off the face of the map," attorney Jose M. Rojas told NewsCore.

Lis' lawsuit alleges that MTV "flooded the internet" with Jersey Shore content, wiping almost any trace of the "Original One and Only DJ Paulie® since 1973" (according to his website) right off the search engine map. Now, it would seem obvious that MTV hasn't actually done any "flooding" as popular TV shows generate their own heat, via "news" items, forum discussions, Facebook fan pages, etc., not to mention that the cast members have never shied away from any self-promotional activity.

I'm sure it's disheartening for the "original" DJ Paulie to search his own name only to have Google inform him that he's misspelled it and show him results for the infinitely more popular DJ Pauly D, but anyone looking for a mild-mannered DJ who's been in business "since 1973" (mainly in the greater Connecticut area) is not going to mistake a gel-topped, Cadillac-tattooed Jersey boy for the person in question. (Or so you would think. In his cease-and-desist letter to Viacom, Lis points out that in three months he received "112 emails and 5 phone inquiries regarding whether or not he was DJ Pauly D from MTV's Jersey Shore." 117 fast-moving morons is a lot of morons.)

In response to this"redirection" of DJ Paulie's fame and fortune, he's asking for $4 million in damages, applying not only to "loss of revenue" due to search engine results, but also the damage done to DJ Paulie's "G-rated" reputation by DJ Pauly D's actions, including allegedly physically assaulting a male hairdresser. (This is on top of the "debauched lifestyle suggestive of loose morals, violence, intoxication and liberal profanity" listed in the filing.)

The "Original DJ Paulie" has several things going for him in this suit. First of all, he's been using the name "DJ Paulie" continuously since 1971. Not only that, but he filed for a trademark on "DJ Paulie" in 2008, roughly a year before Jersey Shore debuted. Add to this the fact that Jersey Shore's DJ Pauly D has applied for a trademark and been rejected three times for "likelihood of confusion," and it looks as if DJ Paulie may have a legitimate claim after all. And as for the "moron in a hurry" litmus test? As noted above, he's run into a few of those as well. (Presumably, most of them warning him to stay away from their sisters.)

Unfortunately, despite these positives, Lis and his lawyer have also dragged in a lot of extras which muddle the relatively clear waters of trademark infringement and send it saling into "spray and pray" territory. First off, Lis claims that MTV "placed content on the internet with metatags and/or other internet searchable indicia intentionally utilizing the spelling of 'DJ Paulie'" to draw traffic to the Jersey Shore star. Unfortunately, this claim heads down a path paved by other failed lawsuits as Google has shown that it does not use metatags to provide search results

He's also naming Baskin-Robbins as a defendant based on its marketing of "disc jockey software incorporating the mark 'DJ PAULY D'" and Hearst Communications for its Cosmo app, which was promoted by DelVecchio. Also listed are the mysterious John Does, all 999 of them, each of which is potentially "liable to the plaintiff for trademark infringement and other related civil wrongs," which I would take to mean that he and his lawyer are hoping to find more defendants through the discovery process.

Of course, all this attendant publicity has gotten his name back to the top of the search engine results. Unfortunately, it does mean he has to share the headlines with his ultra-tanned nemesis.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 5th, 2011 @ 7:17pm

    I'm no expert but an avid reader...

    Wouldn't a judge say that "DJ Paulie" and "DJ Paulie D" are distinguishable and toss this out?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jul 5th, 2011 @ 7:45pm

    With luck...

    Personally, I hope he gets his $4M, and then some! As far as I'm concerned, he was ripped off!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Jamie (profile), Jul 5th, 2011 @ 8:48pm

    Re:

    >> Wouldn't a judge say that "DJ Paulie" and "DJ Paulie D" are distinguishable and toss this out?

    The names can be distinguished, but are still very similar. Your average "moron in a hurry" would almost definitely confuse the two, and that's what trademarks are there to protect against.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 5th, 2011 @ 9:26pm

    Just wanted to say that, while metatags aren't used by any public facing search engine of repute, the fact that it's included could be potentially damning. Most webmasters will still use metatags on habit, even if they know it does nothing (which many might actually not). It shows, at the very least, an intent to try to get "DJ Paulie" searches to direct to "DJ Pauly D".

    Granted, it'd be hard to show that they added "DJ Paulie" with the intent to displace the real DJ Paulie, and not simply with intent to cover common misspellings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Casey Bouch (profile), Jul 5th, 2011 @ 9:27pm

    Re: With luck...

    I agree but I fear as if my opinion on the matter may be bias because of my hatred for all things "Jersey Shore" and what it represents.

    If someone stood up and made the same exact claim and had trademarked the term 'Gogle' in the 80's as a software company, I might consider it silly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 5th, 2011 @ 10:09pm

    Oh hell screw viacom and the JS they rode in on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 2:52am

    Ultra-tanned. LOL!

    Man, it reminds me of all the crap that ran on MTV lately before they finally became pay-per-view. Good riddance. GoTV FTW.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    johnjac (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 4:33am

    Reverse

    What I fine interesting is that the 'confusion' here isn't Original DJ Paulie® potential customers mistakingly contacting DJ Pauly D for business. But people looking for DJ Pauly D, contacting Original DJ Paulie® thinking he was on the Jersey Shore.

    Isn't the the opposite of what Trademark is supposed to protect? And the fact that people are finding him, if only to mistake him for the upstart DJ Pauly D, undermine his claim he can't be found because DJ Pauly D flooded the internet?

    My brain just exploded a little.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:54am

    i think this guy had his chance since the 70s to become big..which was a lot of time...and i've never heard of him so he was obviously never going to be as popular as Pauly D. even though Pauly D has the same name as him there are tons of other more popular DJs than DJ Paulie that have been "wiping him off the map" as well. I hope the judge will tell this guy he really doesnt have a case because he has never heard of him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Brian Schroth (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 6:28am

    The following comment is based on the assumption that "DJ Pauly D" is not an actual DJ, and that's merely his nickname on a stupid fucking TV show. If that is incorrect, disregard it. I'd research this, but if I have to spend time researching a Jersey Shore "star" I would then have to shoot myself.

    I'm not really agreeing with your "hey, this guy might have an OK case, if it weren't for all this crazy shit he added" analysis.

    DJ Pauly D is not competing in the field of disc jockey services (which I will again assume is the field which the "DJ Paulie" trademark applies to). Therefore, there is no trademark claim.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Names vs Trademarks.

    So, basically, if someone trademarks my name, and I then get famous (still holding out for someone in Hollywood to randomly cast me in the next mega movie), I can get sued for this? For not looking up my own name in whatever registry there is over trademarks, and then change my own name because of it?

    Or is it the "DJ"-part that all of a sudden makes it a trademark?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Bill (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re: Names vs Trademarks.

    So, basically, if someone trademarks my name, and I then get famous (still holding out for someone in Hollywood to randomly cast me in the next mega movie), I can get sued for this?

    Not sure, but if someone trademarks their name that happens to be the same as yours then yes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Brian Schroth (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re:

    well, disregard my comment, then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: Names vs Trademarks.

    I'm pretty sure the issue is that both are pseudonyms.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Re:

    I think the only person who can call themselves a DJ and not play music was on full house

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    Wait...
    DJ Pauly D + "Jersey Shore" = PAULY SHORE?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 1:48pm

    Full House?

    Wasn't there also one on "Roseanne"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Brian Andrews, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:27pm

    DJ Pauly D Rejected Three Times

    Looks like Pauly D better hang ups his headphones. The copyright offices refuses to give Pauly D any TradeMark. DJ Paulie has one of the Hottest shows on the Internet and owns all related Trademarks. TV and Pauly D lose big time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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