Thursday, November 22, 2007

Red Hot Chili Peppers likely to lose to cannier Showtime?

The Red Hot Chili Peppers recently launched a lawsuit against Showtime's show "Californication" claiming that they had lifted the title, a character name and some dialogue. The Register notes some possible icebergs on the horizon:
Showtime Networks is expected to argue that the band did not coin the word, a portmanteau of California and fornication. It first appeared in print in Time Magazine in 1972, in an article called The Great Wild Californicated West.

Time reporter Sandra Burton wrote: "Legislators, scientists and citizens are now openly concerned about the threat of 'Californication' - the haphazard, mindless development that has already gobbled up most of Southern California."

Kim Walker, head of intellectual property at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said the band should have registered Californication as a trademark. Instead, the only trademark application was filed in April in the US, by Showtime Networks. The mark has not yet been registered.

"Successful songs, albums and movies can become brands in themselves. What's really surprising is how few songs and albums are properly protected," said Walker. "The Chili Peppers could almost certainly have registered a trademark for 'Californication', notwithstanding Time's article. They made the word famous, but it doesn't automatically follow that they can stop its use in a TV show.

"If they had registered the title as a trademark covering entertainment services, I very much doubt we'd have seen a lawsuit. The TV show would have been called something else," he said. "As it is, the band faces an uphill struggle."
Couldn't happen to nicer hypocrites, not least when you recall Tom Petty's assertions of musical plagiarism against them.
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