That Bizarre Trademark Suit Between Music Promoters Over An 'Ultra' Trademark Nobody Owned Is Still Going On
from the not-so-swift-justice dept
I’ll forgive the average reader here if they cannot recall the post we did nearly a year and a half ago about a trademark dispute between Worldwide Entertainment Group Inc. of Florida and Adria MM Productions Ltd. of Croatia. It’s by far my favorite trademark story ever. It has all the hallmarks of a typical trademark bullying story that we would cover: from a fairly generic term (“Ultra”) in a really broad industry (music festivals) being licensed for use overseas in Europe by Worldwide to Adria, only to have the former ratchet up its licensing fee and control demands over the trademark it had on the term “Ultra.” Pretty standard fare, even when we get to the part where Worldwide sends Adria notice that it is in breach of the licensing agreement and demanding the stoppage of all use of the term “Ultra.”
But where this all turned into my favorite trademark story ever was when Adria MM sued Worldwide, stating this:
AMM says that at that time it discovered that Ultra didn’t have any rights over proprietary marks in Europe, specifically in Croatia.
Yes, according to Adria, Worldwide didn’t actually have registered trademarks for “Ultra” in Europe at all, making the licensing arrangement it first signed and then tried to use as a weapon against Adria a brilliant piece of bluffery. What should be fairly clear, however, is that the entire basis of the licensing contract was built upon a lie. With that clearly in mind, Adria moved to have this all decided in the summary judgement phase.
And, because everything about this story is designed to be as funny as possible. shortly after filing its suit, there was a scramble at the trademark offices that honestly should have been accompanied by an instrumental replaying of Yakety Sax.
Five days after the filing the lawsuit, both companies filed to register the trademark “within 34 minutes of each other,” as quoted in the court ruling, with Adria filing in Croatia and Worldwide with the European Union. Both companies protested the filing of the other, and after filing legal actions in the state of Florida, both requested summary judgment in their favor.
And both were denied that summary judgment. In the order, the court relies on the notion that there are material facts in dispute regarding the validity of the original licensing agreement. Summary judgment is only supposed to be granted when material facts are not in dispute and the parties simply want a ruling based on those facts. What makes this odd, however, is that the order’s background section appears to accept as fact that the Worldwide did not hold any valid trademarks under the “Ultra” terms in the EU or Croatia specifically for the entire term of the original contract. The only fact that appears to not be in question is whether that agreement is valid anyway. Which… how? If it was entered into under false pretenses, it’s unclear exactly how that agreement could be valid.
Regardless, it appears this will go to a jury trial where, if common sense prevails, it seems unlikely things will go well for Worldwide Entertainment Group.