Chili Peppers going after Californication

by Paul William Tenny

californication.jpgThere was a cute story in Variety yesterday about a lawsuit filed against Showtime over the title of their series Californication. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers think they own the name exclusively since they used it first, and foremost for both a CD and song title. The problem with that theory is that song titles generally don't qualify for trademark protection. Just have a look through any catalog and you'll see dozens of songs with the same title, all by different bands in different eras.

The same goes for movie and television episode titles. Follow this search to see what I mean.

Something to consider is that trademark protection is not absolute, either. Because words are kind of a finite resource, a term can be used in different industries where there is little or no likelihood that one thing will be confused as the other. In this case, The Peppers' lawyers are claiming the audience (that's you) will easily confuse a TV show on Showtime staring Fox Mulder as a sleazy writer with a crappy band that hasn't done anything since the 1990's.

I don't think anybody will confuse the Peppers with a niche show on a pay-cable channel that probably has fewer people watching it on a weekly basis (the show, not the channel) that some popular YouTube videos. And I've actually heard good things about it. Go figure.
in Legal, Television


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