alerts us to the news that the punk band The Vandals
was recently sued by publishing giant Reed Elsevier
because back in 2004, the band put out an album that used the font used by Hollywood trade publication Daily Variety for its own name on the album cover:
After the album was released, the band and its record label were sent a cease-and-desist over the logo. Rather than fight it (and they had a strong parody case), the band and the label complied with the C&D and stopped using the logo, replacing it with the one you see at the bottom of the image above. The Vandals seems quite confused over the nature of the lawsuit, seeing as they complied with the C&D more than five years ago:
The Daily Variety claims that our old logo for Hollywood Potato Chip, which is a parody of the Daily Variety logo commenting on the materialistic culture of Hollywood, is still on the Internet and they are suing us for this. We agreed not to use this logo anymore and we have no product for sale with this logo so their claims that we are intentionally using it and harming the Daily Variety are ludicrous.
We do not have this logo, or any other of their logos on any of our sites under our control. They are telling us that it is still on the Internet but they wont tell us where it is. Instead, they have demanded a HUGE sum of money. I mean HUGE, OUTRAGEOUS, and IMPOSSIBLE TO RAISE; and $25,000 for their attorneys to cover all the damages they have suffered from what they call a breach of our settlement agreement.
We have breached nothing. We are just a punk band and a small insolvent record label trying to keep stuff on the shelves and pay royalties to other artists.
Website The Wrap asked Reed Elsevier for comment and got the following message
, which doesn't address any of the actual issues:
"The stylized VARIETY mark is a very well known and valuable trademark which the Vandals misused," Henry Horbaczewski, counsel for Reed Elsevier, wrote in an e-mail message to TheWrap. "We sued them, and they accepted a settlement agreement in which they promised to stop misusing our mark, because we wanted to stop the misuse, not their money. They then ignored their agreement."
Horbaczewski added: "[Vandals drummer Joe] Escalante is a lawyer. He should have known the consequences of his actions."
It's difficult to see how they have much of a case unless there's a lot
more going on here. First of all, the use of the logo here is almost certainly protected as a parody use -- and it's difficult to believe that anyone
(moron in a hurry or not) would face a likelihood of confusion and believe somehow that the album was endorsed or supported by Daily Variety. Even so, if it's true that The Vandals are not selling anything with this logo, then it's difficult to see how Reed Elsevier can claim that this is "use in commerce." This whole thing seems like a pointless lawsuit for no reason whatsoever. Perhaps Reed Elsevier's lawyers would be better served making sure that the company isn't publishing fake, ghost-written journals
at the behest of industry interests, rather than suing a random punk band for a parody...