Crazy Public Domain Monkey Selfie Trademark Filing Gets Crazier: Filed By Someone Pretending To Be Haim Saban

from the so-add-in-publicity-rights dept

So, we recently posted a bizarre story in the form of a law school exam question involving the attempt to trademark a public domain monkey selfie using a photoshopped Gap catalog image. If that doesn’t make sense to you, go read the original story. My fingers are too tired to re-explain the whole thing here. Just know that it’s as bizarre as it sounds.

And, now it gets even more bizarre. As we noted, the original trademark application appeared to come from Saban Capital Group, the company controlled by media mogul Haim Saban. Saban’s lawyers reached out to explain that… the trademark application appears to come from someone pretending to be Haim Saban or his company. Whoever it is (and we’ve reached out to them) has apparently set up a fake “Saban Capital Group” in the British Virgin Islands, and has filed over 200 trademark applications, some in the name of Saban Capital Group (and some as others). In retrospect, there are some hints that something is not right if you dig deep into the trademark application, including the hotmail email address and the fact that the application is signed by “Tiwhk.” Also, it’s being sent from Ann Arbor Michigan, rather than LA where Saban Capital Group is actually based. But, almost all of that can be explained away as just some old fashioned way of doing things and/or from a remote/subsidiary address or something.

And, really, who the hell files trademark applications in someone else’s name? The whole idea is bizarre, so it didn’t even cross my mind.

Saban’s (actual) lawyers agree, noting that the real Saban would not “actually do something as foolish as this,” and they have no idea who is actually doing it — but whoever it is has apparently filed over 200 trademark applications. The real Saban Capital Group’s lawyers say they’re investigating and suggest that the filer/s “appear to be infringers, or counterfeiters, or hoaxers or all of the foregoing” and they “intend to prosecute them to the full extent of the law.” I don’t see 200 applications, but there are a few others, such as this one, using Chinese characters, which the application claims means “Big Mouth Monkey” which they want to put on clothing (they show it on a pair of shoes). I have, in fact, confirmed that it does, in fact, say “Big Mouth Monkey” with someone who can read Chinese. So, at least that is accurate. And there’s this one for a stylized version of the name “Paul Homme” (I have no idea who that is). Or this one for “BIG FACE” (no further explanation needed).

Either way, I’ve emailed the Hotmail address behind these filings, but as of this posting have not heard back. The real lawyers for Saban seem perplexed by the whole situation as well — as do multiple trademark experts I’ve spoken to. No one’s quite sure why anyone would file trademarks under someone else’s company’s name, but it adds yet another element to the crazy law school exam question we had in the original post. Here might be a case where actual trademarks are being violated (that of Saban Capital Group). Hell, I would bet some high priced lawyers might even try to figure out a way to argue that publicity rights are implicated here, though I’m not sure I’d recommend that…

Either way, we’d like to apologize to Haim Saban and (the real) Saban Capital Group for implying that they would file a questionable trademark on a public domain monkey selfie for use on clothing (including wedding dresses) as demonstrated by a photoshopped Gap catalog photo. And, “Tiwhk,” if you’re out there, please contact us. We’d love to know your side of the story…

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Companies: saban capital group

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Comments on “Crazy Public Domain Monkey Selfie Trademark Filing Gets Crazier: Filed By Someone Pretending To Be Haim Saban”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

An epic troll, that’s who.

Meh. If one looks at Milwaukee County 2013CV2944, Wisconsin Eastern District Bankruptcy 14-24439-gbh, Wisconsin Eastern District Bankruptcy 14-31425-pp and USPTO 86025003 all it takes to have a person make a claim and the Court system to never bother to charge anyone with perjury.

That’s pretty spendy for a wtf.

Again, Meh. If stolen credit cards/stolen bank info is being used its not the filer’s money.

Well over $60K would be spent in investigating and trying to sort the whole matter out. Economic asymmetric warfare.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yet another example of an instance in real life that puts outlandish fiction to shame. Frankly, none of this makes any sense, but one thing is for certain. If the applicant reveals himself it is surely only a matter of time before he/she is prosecuted for a perjurious oath associated with every application wrongfully filed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, no…prosecutions involving 18 USC 1001 for false oaths are rather commonplace, though the crime is usually one of a laundry list presented during such prosecutions. As a prime example, take a good look at your upcoming tax return and note that by signing you are affirming you are aware that false statements associated with the return are deemed violations of 18 USC 1001 and subject to prosecution according to its provisions. How do you think they got Al Capone?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually, no…prosecutions involving 18 USC 1001 for false oaths are rather commonplace

Really? Got proof? I’ll point to the Milwaukee County DA saying this is not the case from the May 1995 ABA article “The Lies Have It” as authoritative.

rather commonplace doesn’t have numbers and is a gut feeling.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hmm, maybe this is one reason for all the recent hacks (eg JPMorgan Chase) where address, name information etc was stolen but apparently not (so far as we know) account information. “Dastardly criminals” are intent on tying up legitimate firms in the IP arena with confusing and costly paper-chases and spurious legal filings in order to throw sand in the works of legitimate businesses who will be involved in time, trouble and considerable expense to straighten things out. This looks like a test of the system, aka a trial run, (relatively trivial subject matter but at the same time enough to confuse and cause extra investigation while the plot is unravelled). Maybe later we will see fraudulent patent filings used to gum up the works of much larger firms. Could be a state actor behind it, the usual suspects perhaps.

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