2 Reasons to Acquire an Entertainment Title Report: Fox and Disney Lawsuits
Without an entertainment title report to protect film or television projects from lawsuits, production houses may have to pay out millions for trademark infringement.
In most cases, the trademark infraction is not intentional and goes largely unnoticed by filmmakers without legal expertise.
If you and your distributor don’t have 7-figure financial resources, a legal battle may stop the film, documentary, or television series from ever seeing the light of day.
Entertainment title reports stop these scenarios from happening.
Before we detail ongoing and high-profile cases that could have been prevented with proactive legal protection, we’ll answer an important question.
What Is an Entertainment Title Report?
An entertainment title report is a comprehensive search for any and all uses of titles used in films, television shows, books, video games, and other media projects, as well as use of the title for other products and services on the market. Having this report is required for the E&O insurance underwriting process, as well as for distribution.
Generated by legal professionals who specialize in protecting film and television producers, an entertainment title report documents any registered and unregistered prior use of your title, so you know whether you need to change it.
Obtaining a title report can protect you from millions in payout, legal fees, stalled production time, or your project never happening at all.
These issues happen frequently. See below for a couple of high-profile cases that could have been avoided.
Case Study 1: Tommorowland Sues Disney
When you think of Tommorowland, you think of Disney Studios; however, the theme park name is only trademarked within the United States.
In other countries, the name belongs to a popular European music festival—a festival that is now bringing suit against Disney.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, trademark attorney Sharon Daboul explains the title lawsuit:
“Disney has a trademark registration in the USA for the term Tomorrowland, dating back to 1970. With this registration, it was successfully able to prevent the music festival from calling itself Tomorrowland when it launched in the USA.
However, the music festival has the rights to the term in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and has prevented Disney from using the name in these countries.”
Source: Belfast Telegraph
With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, the legal battle is ongoing, which could have been avoided with an entertainment title report.
Case Study 2: Empire Distribution, Inc., Sues Fox
The television show Empire is a smash hit, which Fox claims it has the title rights to.
However, Empire Distribution, Inc., demands a $5 to 8 million dollar restitution for trademark infringement—an amount, which will be dispersed among several artists they represent.
All of this legal turmoil has occurred because of entertainment title disputes.
According to official court documents, there are 3 options for Fox:
“(1) Fox could pay $5 million and include artists that defendant represents as ‘regular guest stars’ on the fictional television series Empire; (2) Fox could pay defendant $8 million; or (3) Fox could stop using the word ‘Empire.’”
Source: View the official court document here.
With success driving Empire forward, it would be more advantageous for producers to continue the series without legal entanglements.
With an entertainment title report performed by legal experts, this lawsuit could have been avoided.