LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — This year’s Oscars show may ultimately be remembered as a battle over swag.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a Los Angeles marketing firm over alleged trademark infringement linked to Oscar gift bags said to contain hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise, including a 10-day trip to Israel valued at $55,000.
According to the lawsuit (PDF) filed in U.S. District Court, defendant Lash Fary, owner of Distinctive Assets, the marketing firm behind the gift bags, is confusing customers by suggesting the Academy endorses the bags with slogans such as “Everyone Wins At The Oscars®! Nominee Gift Bags,” and “Everyone Wins Nominee Gift Bags in Honor of the Oscars®.”
The trademarks were also used on the company’s Twitter page, according to the suit.
The lawsuit claims Academy officials in Feb. 2015 contacted Distinctive Assets “explaining the harm these gift bag promotions cause.”
“Eventually, through its lawyer, Distinctive Assets agreed to stop creating false impressions that is associated with the Oscar ceremony or the Academy,” the suit states. “But it has not done so.”
The lawsuit cites various examples in the ensuing media coverage showing that the company “appears to be taking no steps to stop wrongfully implying a relationship with the Academy” and warns the coverage could “dilute the distinctiveness of the Academy’s famous trademarks and tarnish their goodwill.”
“Press about the 2016 gift bags has focused on both the less-than-wholesome nature of some of the products contained in the bags, which purportedly include a $250 marijuana vaporizer, a $1,900 “vampire breast lift,” skin treatments by Park Avenue plastic surgeons valued at more than $5,500, a $250 sex toy, and $275 Swiss-made toilet paper, and the unseemliness of giving such high value gifts, including trips costing tens of thousands of dollars, to an elite group of celebrities,” the suit states.
The lawsuit seeks to prevent Distinctive Assets from “using, displaying, marketing, distributing, advertising, transferring or selling any services using the Academy’s trademarks or otherwise creating a false association with the Academy or the Oscars.”
The Academy hopes to recover three times the defendants’ profits along with damages and attorneys’ fees, according to the suit.
There was no immediate response to the lawsuit from Distinctive Assets.