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War of Words Between Three Stooges Company and Porn Parody Producer
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The company in charge of the Three Stooges brand for roughly 50 years, C3 Entertainment, is fighting with the creators of a porn film titled Not the Three Stooges XXX. C3 Entertainment claims that its intellectual property is being infringed upon by the film’s makers say that the film is protected by the First Amendment because it is a parody. The executive vice president and general counsel of C3 Entertainment, Robert Benjamin, wrote in a letter the following:

“I learned yesterday that someone, presumably you or your client, gave copies of recent correspondence between us to the media. By publishing your letter to me, dated April 11, 2012, in such a manner, someone may have incurred tort liability. Your letter contains misstatements of fact and disparages The Three Stooges Brand.”

  
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The producer and director of the porn movie, Will Ryder, is on the hot seat in this dispute. He has been responsive for other porno parodies including Batman XXX: A Porn Parody. C3 Entertainment was originally created in 1958 as Comedy III Productions by the Stooges when they left Columbia Pictures.

A cease and desist letter was sent to the producers of the porn parody but a response to that letter was sent to C3 Entertainment saying that the movie is a parody. After C3 Entertainment received the response to the cease and desist letter it sent, Benjamin responded on April 5 with the following:

“Your client is not the first to try to use the First Amendment as an excuse to wrongfully capitalize on The Three Stooges Brand,” he wrote.

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The attorney for Ryder, Michael Fattorosi, responded on April 11 with the following:

“While your case is noteworthy in regards to copyright and misappropriation of likeness, I see no application to a true parody, which my client has indeed created,” Fattorosi wrote.



Fattorosi claims that the only registered trademark that C3 Entertainment has for The Three Stooges is for bottled beer. He also said that his client’s film could not be mistaken for the same brand. Then, this Wednesday, Benjamin responded to the Fattorosi letter. He said that the trademark for C3 Entertainment also includes other goods such as posters, books, gaming machines and motion picture exhibition.

But perhaps just as important, Benjamin notes that his intellectual property includes copyright and rights of publicity and also hints that a lawsuit might not just be grounded in the usual trademark claim of confusing the source of goods and services. C3 Entertainment could file a lawsuit against the makers of the porn parody, claiming copyright infringement by saying that the film really is not a parody and actually is similar to other Three Stooges productions.



 

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