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.

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Companies: baskin-robbins, mtv

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Comments on “Washed Up On The 'Jersey Shore': The 'Original DJ Paulie' Sues DJ Pauly D”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

johnjac (profile) says:


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.

anonymous says:

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.

Brian Schroth (profile) says:

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.

WysiWyg (profile) says:

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?

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