Lionsgate Sues TD Ameritrade For Seven Figures Over Lame Reference To A Dirty Dancing Line

from the cha-cha-cha dept

Lionsgate Studios, as you may remember, was last seen absolutely losing its mind over the leak of Expendables 3, which [insert snarky comment about movie quality here]. The studio's reaction to the leak was to peel off a massive lawsuit, get a restraining order, and go takedown crazy. Between those actions and the studio's willingness to go the DMCA and/or legal route in silencing a documentary about The Pirate Bay, not to mention a video that the Copyright Office itself used as an example of Fair Use, it's clear that Lionsgate doesn't mind firing off legal shots at questionable targets.

And, in case you thought this trend had somehow abated, it hasn't. The latest example is Lionsgate apparently suing TD Ameritrade for trademark violation after the latter had included in one of its advertisements the line, "Nobody puts your old 401(k) in the corner." You can see the commercial here, but essentially: a guy holds up his piggy bank in a manner similar to the dance moves from the movie.

Yeah, it's an imperfect reference to a line from Dirty Dancing, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." Lionsgate apparently owns the rights to that movie. The studio has also apparently filed for trademark on the line for items such as books, clothing and household items. None of those categories appears to include financial services, but that hasn't stopped Lionsgate from demanding a ton of money for the use in the now-discontinued commercial.

A letter sent by Lionsgate on April 2 is said to have demanded that TD America cease the advertisement and pay Lionsgate a seven figure amount to settle its claim. (Besides trademark, the film studio is said to have "alluded" to copyright as well.). In an action filed on Friday in New York federal court seeking declaratory relief, TD America and its marketing agency Havas Worldwide say they wish "to put to rest the baseless, overreaching claims asserted by Lionsgate."

The plaintiffs say there's no evidence that anyone was confused while the advertisement ran for a seven-month period. They add they have no plans to use the ad in the future.
And so TD Ameritrade is seeking relief via the court to basically swat Lionsgate off its back, like some kind of seven-figure-sucking mosquito. Not all use requires permission, after all, and a trademark case involving trademarks that have been applied for areas in which the use doesn't occur doesn't seem like great legal footing from Lionsgate's standpoint. Instead it comes across as a pure moneygrab, attempting to extract cash for the use of a line from a movie released in the 80's that no reasonable person had any possible chance of being confused by. If the studio wants to actually build a case around the idea that the public is really stupid, let it try, but I expect it to back down instead.


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  • icon
    dfed (profile), 6 Jul 2015 @ 4:22pm

    Apparently someone actually did put baby in the corner: Lionsgate.

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

  • icon
    radarmonkey (profile), 6 Jul 2015 @ 4:25pm

    Why?

    Why are movie studios actively driving me away from wanting to give them my money? It is asshat moves like this that make me want to go out of my way so they don't see a dime.

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 6 Jul 2015 @ 4:39pm

      Re: Why?

      That's easy to answer - they've been taken over by lawyers. Said lawyers tell the execs that every last penny must be squeezed from their property, and they're just the people to get them that money (in court). When a company gets taken over by lawyers, it's invariably time to sell whatever stock you have in that company.

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

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 6 Jul 2015 @ 4:55pm

        Re: Re: Why?

        Lawyers and marketers. The marketers tell the studios which movies to make, and the lawyers tie up the IP as much as legally possible. The "artists" just do what they're told.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2015 @ 4:55pm

        Re: Re: Why?

        It's not just lawyers, but also includes those people who have an MBA, a degree in how to run a business without having any clue as to what the business does.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2015 @ 4:59pm

        Re: Re: Why?

        A long time ago, I listened to a gentleman about the principles to running a business.

        Rule 1. Have high quality advisors to help you run business. Listen to their advice.

        Rule 2. Ignore high quality advisors when they intrude upon your vision for business with advice that is contrary to your vision. Advisors are competent in their areas but not in any area outside of their specialities. Accountants and lawyers should NEVER but put in charge of the business, they will destroy it.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Jul 2015 @ 8:00pm

      Re: Why?

      Better question: Why are you not already doing that?

      I mean, sleazy moves like this are hardly new for the major studios and labels, so why would you even consider giving them any of your money anyway at this point? Forget them, forget the crap they push out, and spend your money on people and companies that deserve it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 12:25am

      Re: Why?

      they don't want you to give them the amount you want to. They want to force the consumer to give them all the money the company wants for as little product in return.

      Essentially you pay us for nothing or we sue you would be their ideal world

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 9:24am

      Re: Why?

      Why are movie studios actively driving me away from wanting to give them my money?
      Have you actually stopped giving it, though? They're been antagonizing people for, what, 15 years now? And their profits are higher than ever.

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

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 6 Jul 2015 @ 5:01pm

    It's ironic that Dirty Dancing is one of the few movies worse than Expendables 3.

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

  • icon
    Cvnk (profile), 6 Jul 2015 @ 8:11pm

    Stop remembering that old movie of ours that no one would ever think about without frequent references to it!

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

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 12:22am

    Me: This battle's so good I almost peed my pants!
    Slightly deaf old lady: Excuse me, dear?
    Edward Lewis: He said he liked it better than The Pirates of Penzance.
    I know, I know. Completely different movie. But at least I got a pirate reference in there. P)

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

  • icon
    yankinwaoz (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 12:35am

    Trademark? Seriously?

    They sued over trademark?

    Don't trademarks have to be registered? Did they register "No one puts baby in the corner" as a trademark? If so, the how? What product do they trade under that name?

    I could see this as a COPYRIGHT infringement suit. They own the copyright to the movie. But I feel that this fair usage of copyrighted material since it is a creative derivative.

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

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 7 Jul 2015 @ 5:16am

      Re: Trademark? Seriously?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark

      The United States, Canada and other countries also recognize common law trademark rights, which means action can be taken to protect an unregistered trademark if it is in use. Still common law trademarks offer the holder in general less legal protection than registered trademarks.

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

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 12:47am

    April 2nd

    There's probably a good reason why they didn't send the first letter a day earlier.. It's probably due to the nature of the bullshit of the letter and things associated with that date, but who knows

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 5:18am

    What would happen?

    If Ameritrade retaliated by dropping the investment portfolios of all the Lionsgate employees and stopped trading in Lionsgate investments?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2015 @ 6:35am

    There is one way this world could stop all the stupid lawsuits but you guys won't like it. We have to get rid of all money, and move to a resource based economy. Then all the blood sucking lawyers and bankers, well they would be out of a job and well we could put them to work on a farm or digging ditches or whatever you think they are capable of, most likely sewer repair men.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 8 Jul 2015 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      There is one way this world could stop all the stupid lawsuits but you guys won't like it. We have to get rid of all money, and move to a resource based economy.

      Go back to barter? You're right, I don't like it. :-)

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

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 7 Jul 2015 @ 7:10am

    What???

    Never saw the movie. Pretty much everything I learned about any Patrick Swayze movies I got from 'Family Guy'.

    I watched ~20 minutes of 'Roadhouse' and hit the bricks.

    I've been 'sent to a corner' and that's the only inference I ever got from the TD ad I saw maybe three times.

    This is just a busted ass bunch of Lawyers and Accountants driving Lionsgate (see Anonymous Coward upstairs), and it's kinda funny 'cuz they'll get burned I'm sure...

    Cheers.

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


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