Warren Miller Entertainment Sues Other Film Producer For Having Warren Miller Appear In A Film
from the warren-miller-warren-miller dept
If you ski or snowboard regularly, you’ve probably come across a Warren Miller Entertainment film at some point in your life. The films, which come out each year just as ski season is about to start, are fun films showing people involved in some extreme skiing activities. Over the years I’ve probably gone to three or four of them. The name for WME comes from (surprise surprise) filmmaker Warren Miller, who started making such movies about 60 years ago. Warren Miller sold WME a while back, and while he was still involved with the films for a while hasn’t had much to do with them in a few years now. However, producers of another ski movie called Refresh, Level 1 Productions, used Mr. Miller in their recent film, and that convinced WME to break out the lawyers. Zack Stecher lets us know that WME is suing Level 1, claiming that it’s violating WME’s trademark on the name Warren Miller by having him appear in their film and by mentioning the fact that he appears in the film. Except… that’s entirely accurate. Warren Miller does appear in Refresh and it would be quite a ridiculous finding under trademark law to find that he can’t use his own name in any film. Luckily, the initial ruling from the court seems to recognize this. A judge refused to grant an injunction preventing the showing of Refresh:
Krieger wrote in her decision, “the Defendant apparently secured Mr. Miller’s agreement to appear in ‘Refresh,’ and should be entitled to identify him to the public and advise the public that Mr. Miller does, in fact, appear in the film.
“According to the Complaint, every instance in which the Defendant used the ‘WARREN MILLER’ mark involved either Mr. Miller personally identifying himself or the Defendants making reference to Mr. Miller as a participant in the film,” Krieger added. “These uses of Mr. Miller’s name are entirely consonant with the public’s interest in being able to truthfully identify a specific person.”
There may be a separate issue concerning a contractual relationship between Warren Miller and Warren Miller Entertainment, but WME does not appear to be suing Warren Miller directly, so that issue is unrelated to this particular lawsuit.