On January 26, 2009, an attorney for the strip club and owner filed an answer (pdf) in the “Stripper Idol” case (blogged here, here, and here), FremantleMedia v. Palazio Men’s Club. Of interest in the answer:
- Defendants inserted a Motion to Dismiss against the individual defendant, arguing that he did nothing in his individual capacity, or pleading for a more complete statement if Plaintiffs believed he did;
- Defendants inserted a Motion to Dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), arguing that “no reasonable patron of Palazio Men’s Club would believe that American Idol sponsored stripping contests at Defendant’s venue or had anything to do with Palazio Men’s Club;” and
- Defendants admitted to “having stripper idol [small letters] contests,” state that the STRIPPER IDOL logo has been removed and is no longer being used, and asserted a general denial to all of the substantive causes of actions under federal and Texas law.
A quick check of their website (sort of safe for work) shows that the advertisement featured above has been replaced with one in the same format, but that reads “Stripper Idols,” in a different, scripty font in a redish-yellow color. Their “events” calendar page also refers to SUPER BOWL XLIII (we already know what the NFL thinks of people using the SUPER BOWL trademark) and to a STUDIO 54 80s party (STUDIO 54, both in plain text and in a design mark, is a registered trademark of the MGM Grand, for, among other things “restaurant and cabaret services). You’d have thought that perhaps, the attorney defending Palazio would have checked the rest of their site for other trademark violations.
The 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss (to the extent that the Court honors a motion to dismiss the entirety of the lawsuit filed without a brief and filed simultaneously with an answer to the entire lawsuit) borders on frivolous. Regardless of whether Fremantle is actually successful on their claims, there’s no doubt that they state a claim for trademark infringement, and dilution under Texas state law as well. Of course, the merits become much more difficult to analyze once the extremely similar logos are taken out of the equation. Fremantle’s claim to “idol” is weak, unless, of course, they can “piggyback” on the old, similar logo and argue an intent to confuse and/or to trade off AMERICAN IDOL’s goodwill.
My guess is that, so long as Fremantle doesn’t demand an inordinate sum of money, the case will settle soon. The cases from the NFL and/or MGM, well, that may be anothe rstory.