Culture

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
cease and desist, rocky, rocky run

Companies:
mgm



Citizen Organizing Small Get-Together 'Rocky Run' Sent C&D By MGM Because Of Course She Was

from the cut-me,-mick dept

It probably won't surprise any of you to learn that film studio MGM tends to be on the aggressive side when it comes to enforcing its intellectual property. Still, it sort of takes my breath away watching them shut down a DIY, non-commercial and charity-benefiting "Rocky" run in Philadelphia. It all started last year, when a Philly journalist took the time to map out the infamous training run performed by Rocky Balboa in the second film. In the film, more Philly citizens join Rocky's run as the scene progresses. The map of the run was then put together and published, leading one Philly citizen, Rebecca Schaefer, to start a friendly get-together run that would follow the same path. The 31 mile trek was joined by a little over a hundred people, none of whom paid any kind of money to join the run, but who did manage to collect running sneakers for a charity.

Before the run could be joined this year, however, MGM sent the C&D letter.

And now MGM has threatened Schaefer with a lawsuit, sending her a cease-and-desist letter over the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run. “To be honest, I was shocked it hadn’t come sooner,” Schaefer, the run's organizer, says. She’s changing the name of the Rocky 50K for its second edition on December 6th, a run that's become much larger than she ever imagined. The soon-to-be-renamed Rocky 50K has no entry fees or actual sign-up list; Schaefer makes no money on the event.
The reason for the C&D this year? Well, MGM is licensing an official Rocky Run put together by a sports corporation that will be taking in money for the event. The end result is that a small, charitable, non-commercial little running group will be forced to give up the name of the event so that an MGM-backed company can come into Philly for the first time to make some money. Lovely. Fans of the original Rocky Run are reportedly unhappy, voicing their displeasure on the corporate-backed run's Facebook page. Those comments, it appears, are being summarily deleted.
After becoming aware of the Cerulean-run competing Rocky 5K/10K event, some Rocky 50K fans say they had posted complaints to the new Rocky Run’s Facebook page, but that they no longer appear there. The organizers at first responded with a form letter-like comment that explained their event was officially licensed (and, yes, an actual race with road closures and prizes and an entry fee). The Rocky Run's organizers did not not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Look, MGM isn't wrong legally, but surely the company could have worked something out with this tiny, little DIY running group so that it could keep raising charitable donations under their original name. I'm fairly certain that 100 folks running thirty miles isn't a threat to the corporate Rocky Run, so what exactly would the harm be?

Fortunately, Schaefer appears to be taking all of this in stride.
“I can’t be negative about this,” she says. “My mom was like, ‘How cool is it that you did something that got a cease-and-desist?’”
Super cool. Damn the man, save the Rocky Run.


Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 2:53pm

    MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

    ... because calling your fun run the "Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run" is likely to confuse the purchasing public?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 5:32am

      Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

      Technically MGM is in the wrong. They were not using the name Rocky in the fun run space. These people got to it first in that space and therefore they have the rights.

      If the movie studio was a small independent and the (original) run was being organised by a big multinational then I'm sure that that is the way it would play out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ChrisB (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 7:17am

        Re: Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

        MGM is right. Trademark is about customer confusion. The name "Rocky" is clearly referring to the movie.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ChrisB (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 7:17am

        Re: Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

        MGM is right. Trademark is about customer confusion. The name "Rocky" is clearly referring to the movie.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 7:47am

          Re: Re: Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

          But trademarks only apply within specific business categories. If you have the trademark for "Rocky" in the movie industry, that doesn't stop me from making, say, an ice cream with the name "Rocky".

          So the question is... did MGM obtain a trademark on "Rocky" in whichever sector that runs fall into?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Sheogorath (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 4:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

            Well, according to MGM, their trademark covers all possible fields, and common law trademarks cover what they haven't thought to register even if someone else was using it first. Best get down to the grocery store before they send a C&D to the makers of Rocky Road.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Anonymous Howard (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 6:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

              I thought this run were about Rocky Road to Dublin.
              Time to change the "origin" of the race!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kj, 25 Sep 2014 @ 2:34pm

      Re: MGM isn't wrong legally? Really?

      I don't often confuse 5k and 50k.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 2:53pm

    I love that the public no longer views Cease and Desist letters as frightening and threatening but as a badge of honor and a source of positive publicity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    S. T. Stone, 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:00pm

    You know what this means.

    Time for the Rambo City Destruction Run!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    scotts13 (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:11pm

    When is the "official" race being held?

    I'm from Philadelphia, and have poster board, paint, and a stick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    zem, 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:12pm

    Just rename it to the rockyroad run and see how that stumps them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:45pm

    Run for the watershed!

    Clearly this run is in honor of the tributary of Bull Creek in the NW part of the state. As soon as the organizers make this clear to MGM, I'm sure they will drop their suit.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Run_(Bull_Creek)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:50pm

    Easy fix

    The new name is "Not Rocky 50K Fat @$$ Run"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:57pm

    For a new name, I suggest "70's Boxing Movie Reference Run," with a "fuck the Hollywood greed machine" subtitle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 4:17pm

    Source?

    "The organizers at first responded with a form letter-like comment that explained their event was officially licensed"

    This claim needs to be backed up. I hate current patent and copyright law, but making a claim that its "Officially Licensed" if it is not is bullshit.

    I, for the first time in my life am on the side of those assclowns in entertainment.

    Now for the next step... fix the law and move this shit to the public domain where it should be by now and call it a damn day!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymouse, 24 Sep 2014 @ 5:19pm

      Re: Source?

      You missed the inference there.

      "After becoming aware of the Cerulean-run competing Rocky 5K/10K event, [...] The organizers at first responded with a form letter-like comment that explained their event was officially licensed..."

      The new run was claiming to be officially licensed in form-letter like replies to comments to their facebook before going silent.

      Your streak is unbroken, you are not on the side of the assclowns this time either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 7:04am

      Re: Source?

      The 'officially licensed' comment came from the new run not the event that received the C&D letter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    gorehound (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 4:30pm

    And it says that MAFIAA MGM is doing a Rocky Run so the other is now illegal.

    So how much you bet those asshats of MGM stole the idea from the small DIY group.I am sure those greedbag asswipesa did do this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 4:49pm

    Just rename it

    Just rename it to the "Crocky Run", and have tee shirts with a crocodile on them!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Devonavar (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 5:08pm

    How can this be illegal?

    I don't know much about the series, but there is a Rocky Run in the movie that is set in an actual place? And now the actual place isn't allowed to hold a run?

    So, let me get this straight ... a fictitious movie is allowed to appropriate part of reality, but reality isn't allowed to appropriate it back?

    That's twisted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 7:31pm

      Re: How can this be illegal?

      Not until 150000 years after the death of the author and the copyright expires at which point it MIGHT go into the public domain.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ChrisB (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re: How can this be illegal?

        What is going on? Why are the majority of you not understanding this has nothing to do with copyright.

        If some group organized a KISS run, and it wasn't licensed by the band KISS, then they'd get a C&D. What is so difficult to understand?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 5:06pm

        Re: Re: How can this be illegal?

        Not until infinity - 1 day after the death of the author and the copyright expires, at which point it MIGHT go into the public domain.
        FTFY.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Devonavar (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 5:11pm

    Under what theory is this illegal?

    I'm curious to know under what theory this is illegal?

    It can't be copyright ... titles aren't creative enough to be considered copyright.

    So ... trademark?

    But trademark only applies in commerce. And, the "Rocky" movies are not in the industry of hosting runs, which should mean that the Rocky trademark shouldn't applies to runs. At least, not until they host an actual run.

    So ... shouldn't the charity have rights to the trademark by virtue of the fact that they were there first?

    So ... not trademark?

    Then ... what?

    How IS the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run illegal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, 24 Sep 2014 @ 5:39pm

    MGM is wrong

    Look, MGM isn't wrong legally


    Sure it is. A not-for-profit, charitable run is not a use in commerce under the Lanham Act, and there's certainly no copyright in the idea of getting a bunch of people together and running a particular route. I'm pretty sure that such a thing is outside the purview of patent law also. The only IPR left then seems to be trade secret law, and since there's no secret here ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 6:44pm

    Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run
    She should change the name to Sylvester Stony 50K Fat Ass Run.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 7:32pm

    I wonder if the citizens can petition the city to yank approval for the "officially licensed" run.

    You come to the city and shit on something citizens created, don't be amazed when they fight back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 8:03pm

    why was his run infamous?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 3:25am

    the C&D is sent because it can be! just another example of what this whole planet is being turned into, one where absolutely nothing matters or is even considered, unless it is keeping some ass hole industry in control of something and making them money!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TRX (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 5:41am

    If it was me... I'd contact Sylvester Stallone's agent and ask if they could get an official endorsement to call it the "Stallone Run" or something similar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob Bushman, 25 Sep 2014 @ 8:22am

    Remove The Statue

    Seems like a simple solution; if MGM doesn't want Rocky to be a part of the public zeitgeist, remove the statue. Or, more accurately, tell MGM that if they don't back down, the statue will be removed.

    Contact the city council and mayor's office. Tell them you don't want public land used to enrich a private corporation that intends to exclude public participation in the cultural record. Tell them that they should make it clear to MGM that a condition of having a tribute to their intellectual property on public land is that the public can incorporate that cutural icon in their events.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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