Lawsuits are as much a part of filmmaking as cameras and lights. Filmmakers are always looking for ways to avoid getting sued during the process of making a film as the ways to get wrapped up in a lawsuit are numerous. It is the right of the filmmaker to create worlds without having to worry about getting sued and it is important to the integrity of the craft. Warner Bros. recently found themselves on the winning side of a lawsuit over trademark infringement that hopefully set a precedent for all subsequent cases of this nature. In the lawsuit, the software company Fortres Grand argues that fictional technology mentioned in the film The Dark Knight Rises could cause brand confusion with some of its software. The fictional tech in question is known as a “clean slate” that would theoretically erase a persons criminal past. The real software is a program that erases the history of one’s computer. A judge stated that “[The] fatal flaw in Fortres Grand’s case has to do with correctly identifying the exact product that Warner Bros. has introduced to the market — a film, not a piece of software.” The affirmation that Warner Bros. did not infringe on any trademarks will hopefully cause those looking to file far-fetched lawsuits against filmmakers to think twice. Filmmakers need the freedom to create without fear of legal ramifications and this court case decision is a step in the right direction.
Trailers are one of the best parts about movies. They get the audience excited and intrigued at new titles. Sometimes, for marketing purposes of course, films are not always 100% like there trailers. This can aggravate some viewers not going into the film with an open mind. Apparently Sarah Deming doesn’t appreciate this practice at all. She filed a lawsuit against the theater and distribution company for the film ”Drive” starring Ryan Gosling. She claims the trailer had portrayed the film to be like Fast and furious. She was quoted in saying,
Deming included the movie theater where she saw the film because it violated Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act, claiming that the film was anti-Semitic for depicting certain Jewish based characters in a negative light. Drive was definitely not a movie for everybody, but it sounds like Ms. Demmings just wasn’t a fan and took it to far. In October 2013 the case was dropped.
A lawsuit that went on for quite awhile was for the film, “The Hangover Part 2.” In the film the actor Ed Helms plays a character named Stu who wakes up after a rough night with a tattoo on his face. This tattoo is very similar to the one Mike Tyson has. (see image below) For most this was an hilarious moment in the film but for the tattoo artist (S. Victor Whitmill) behind the original design it was something more, to him it seemed like copyright infringement. The studio behind the movie; Warner Brothers thought differently and believe it was fare use. During the trail they mentioned that if needed they would be willing to digitally alter the tattoo when it was released on DVD and Bluray if a settlement was not made. Fortunately they were able to reach an agreement but the details of their agreement are confidential and have yet to be released.
At the end of the day everyone wishes they were famous. Everybody wants their 15 seconds of fame and they will go about it any way they deem possible. A lot of these lawsuits seem less about justice and more about craving attention. Where does it end? Will people get to the pint where they sue over a bad film, that their time and money was wasted and the trauma of such an atrocity requires compensation and damages, with years of paid for therapy to follow? Or will people realize that if you want in the show you got to pay the entry fee. No one gets in for free.