'Watchmen' chock full 'o more litigation

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'Watchmen' chock full 'o more litigation

Mon Apr 06, 2009 @ 06:22PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Picture 5 Thought all the litigation over "Watchmen" was over? Think again. Lawyers for Warner Bros. are waking up to the aroma of a freshly brewed lawsuit courtesy of the Massimo Zanetti Beverage company.

In a new complaint filed in Virginia District Court, the maker of specialty coffees accuses Warner Bros., DC Comics, and the Organic Coffee Cartel of trademark infringement associated with a scene in "Watchmen" featuring superheroes serving coffee to recently-saved victims of a tenement fire. 

Massimo Zanetti thinks the trade dress on Nite Owl coffee looks awfully similar to its own trade dress on the "Chock Full O' Nuts" line of coffee (below). Massimo demands an injunction against any further exploitation of the mark and a share of profits from the film. If the plaintiff is lucky, a judge like Gary Feess will delay the DVD release of the film. Could the threat of an injunction lead to lengthy negotiations, anxious geeks threatening to boycott caffeine, and Massimo getting a cut of Larry Gordon's profits from the film?

Picture 6

Doubtful, but Warners is probably just happy they don' t have to deal with Fox on this one.

In other lawsuit news:

  • Speaking of superheroes, Stan Lee is being sued yet once again by an aggrieved shareholder. The lawsuit brought by Stan Lee Media is still ongoing, and now the genius behind Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four has to wage war against yet another individual, who has filed a class action complaint in California District Court over Lee's actions in running and then leaving the company that bears his name.
  • Speaking of super villains, Anthony Pellicano is being sued yet once again by an alleged victim of his wiretapping deeds. Kirk Kirkorian's wife's lawyer and two friends are suing Pellicano, Kirkorian, and the law firm of GlaserFink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro for illegally obtaining confidential information. The law firm was home to Terry Christensen, Kirkorian's attorney.
  • Speaking of the place where one might get access to superhero DVDs, Netflix is dealing with a class action lawsuit filed by a California individual who claims Netflix "slows down the delivery of DVDs" by using an undisclosed "allocation formula" that impedes Netflix's claim that customers have access to an unlimited amount of DVDs.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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