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Fox Sues Humor Writer for Using 'Signature' Slogan (Al "Irrelevant" Franken)
Yahoo! News ^ | August 12, 2003 | Reuters

Posted on 08/12/2003 8:31:50 AM PDT by El Conservador

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fox News Network is suing humor writer Al Franken for trademark infringement over the phrase "fair and balanced" on the cover of his upcoming book, saying it has been "a signature slogan" of the network since 1996.

According to court papers made available on Monday, Fox is seeking a temporary or permanent injunction against Franken and publisher Penguin Group to stop them using the phrase in connection with the book to be published next month.

The network, part of the News Corp group, also asked Manhattan Supreme Court for compensatory and punitive damages.

The title of liberal satirist Franken's new book is "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." At the bottom of the planned cover is the tag line, "A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

Fox claims the use of the phrase is intended to confuse the public and boost book sales.

In the lawsuit, Fox said the network was created "as a specific alternative to what its founders perceived as a liberal bias in the American media."

A spokeswoman for Penguin imprint Dutton, Lisa Johnson, called the lawsuit "extraordinary."

"In trying to suppress Al Franken's book the News Corp is undermining First Amendment principles that protect all media by guaranteeing a free, open and vigorous debate of public issues," she said.

"The attempt to keep the public from reading Franken's message is un-American and runs contrary to everything this country stands for."

Franken worked as a comedy writer in the 1970s and has appeared frequently on "Saturday Night Live."

Reuters/VNU


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alfranken; foxnews; lawsuit; trademark
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Trying to cash in Fox's popularity
1 posted on 08/12/2003 8:31:51 AM PDT by El Conservador
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To: El Conservador
How does she extrapolate "Take our slogan out of your title" to 'suppressing the book'?
2 posted on 08/12/2003 8:33:28 AM PDT by nina0113
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To: El Conservador
Al Franken is a mouth-breathing moron, but FoxNews does not have the slightest bit of a legal case here.
3 posted on 08/12/2003 8:34:00 AM PDT by dead (Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!)
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To: El Conservador
The cover:


4 posted on 08/12/2003 8:36:41 AM PDT by Paul Atreides
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To: nina0113
Exactly what I was thinking. Probably the same way that the leftists extrapolate "You are haters of nature" about people who hunt and fish. Or even "You are murdering scum" about people who own guns. Or maybe "You are fundamentalist intolerate whackos" about anyone who dares mention the Bible in public. Argument Ad Adsurdum. It's their only tool.
5 posted on 08/12/2003 8:38:16 AM PDT by BSunday (I'm speaking against them, therefore I must be a jack booted nazi.)
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To: dead
"Al Franken is a mouth-breathing moron, but FoxNews does not have the slightest bit of a legal case here.

If they can prove that people will associate that slogan with theirs, or that this moron purposely used that slogan as an afront to Fox News, they have a very good case. Trademark Laws are very specific when it comes to word marks.

6 posted on 08/12/2003 8:41:51 AM PDT by JustAnAmerican
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To: El Conservador
The phrase "fair and balanced" was around long before FoxNews. Sorry FoxNews, you don't have any more right to those words than any other else does.
7 posted on 08/12/2003 8:44:06 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: El Conservador
I'd say there is a good case for slander here as well. Franken is openly calling explicit persons liars.

And of course he's going to scream about his "Civil Rights" that's why he wrote the book. Now that there's law suits he can claim he's being persecuted for speaking out. Now his only problem his how to draw the line strait to G.W.Bush.

8 posted on 08/12/2003 8:44:09 AM PDT by Falcon4.0
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To: dead
FoxNews does not have the slightest bit of a legal case here.

I have to agree but it's a good way to get the word out there.

9 posted on 08/12/2003 8:44:34 AM PDT by Saundra Duffy
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To: El Conservador
Actually, I think it's funny that the stupid moron actually has his picture as the biggest one on the cover that screams it is all about liars telling lies. ;)

Btw, being successful enough to get your picture on the cover of Franken's book may be a source of perverse pride to one or two of the folks on the tv monitors behind him.

10 posted on 08/12/2003 8:46:26 AM PDT by KellyAdmirer
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To: El Conservador
Penguin is the one who publishes Tom Clancy's outstanding books--an odd combination of authors.
11 posted on 08/12/2003 8:47:21 AM PDT by katze
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To: JustAnAmerican
If he were running a news channel, and was being deliberately deceptive in trying to steal their trademark, they'd have a case.

But they don't.

Howard Stern had an even more blatant conflict when he named his second book "Miss America" but the case was immediately thrown out of court. The ruling was that he was obviously not being deceptive or trying to make people believe that his book was about the beauty pagent.

The words "fair and balanced" belong to nobody.

12 posted on 08/12/2003 8:47:52 AM PDT by dead (Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!)
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To: Paul Atreides
Look at him, he's a dribbling wuss. Even with a pace-maker, Cheney could kick his ass. And I'm so sure it's fair and balanced. At least those folks in the background don't pretend to be something they're not.
13 posted on 08/12/2003 8:50:37 AM PDT by GigaDittos (I can hear the distant whine about wine in France.)
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To: JustAnAmerican
It's seems the "newsroom" in the background would be a dead give-away. I mean wasn't this fool on Saturday Night Live...how related is that to a newsroom? So where is the relation to his past? Was he once a news person? If so, maybe he's got a chance, otherwise I think it's plainly obvious.
14 posted on 08/12/2003 8:53:30 AM PDT by GigaDittos (I can hear the distant whine about wine in France.)
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To: El Conservador
Al Franken is entirely motivated by hatred for those with whom he disagrees.

I'm not even sure what the man believes.

15 posted on 08/12/2003 8:54:53 AM PDT by skeeter (Fac ut vivas)
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To: GigaDittos
And Bill O'Reilly's on the lower left monitor! Oh no, it's not about Fox at all.
16 posted on 08/12/2003 8:56:47 AM PDT by nina0113
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To: JustAnAmerican
"Trademark Laws are very specific when it comes to word marks."

Yes, but if he did not appropriate their slogan as his, but rather used their slogan as "satire" then I think he's okay.
Satire is protected.
17 posted on 08/12/2003 8:57:40 AM PDT by John Beresford Tipton
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To: Paul Atreides
Based on the words alone, I would say that FoxNews doesn't have much of a case. But given the fact that the cover shows Franken standing in a TV control room with two of four TV screens showing FoxNews personalities, their case is strengthened.
18 posted on 08/12/2003 8:57:42 AM PDT by gridlock (Remember: PC Kills.)
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To: nina0113
Liberals "feel" they don't think...( also, they play loose with concepts like telling the truth)

How does she extrapolate "Take our slogan out of your title" to 'suppressing the book'?

19 posted on 08/12/2003 9:01:19 AM PDT by GOPJ
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To: El Conservador
We have Ann Coulter. The left counters with... Al Franken?

ROFLMAO!!!

20 posted on 08/12/2003 9:02:15 AM PDT by CheezyD
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To: TomGuy
The phrase "fair and balanced" was around long before FoxNews. Sorry FoxNews, you don't have any more right to those words than any other else does.

You're right, of course. In fact, Al Gore traces his invention of that phrase all the way back to his college "Love Story" days!

21 posted on 08/12/2003 9:04:16 AM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: GigaDittos
It's hard to believe that anyone could listen to any pinhead like Franken or Garofalo. Then again, being a liberal does require jettisoning the brain in favor of unadulterated emotionalism.
22 posted on 08/12/2003 9:05:15 AM PDT by Paul Atreides
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To: gridlock
I think that FNC's use of "fair and balanced" has always irked the left.
23 posted on 08/12/2003 9:06:31 AM PDT by Paul Atreides
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To: CheezyD
Ann could whip his ass with one hand tied behind her back.
24 posted on 08/12/2003 9:09:16 AM PDT by GigaDittos (I can hear the distant whine about wine in France.)
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To: El Conservador
Why is Fox giving Al Franken publicity he could never buy? Franken is irrelevant. His movies, TV shows, and books have all been abject failures. Let him steal Fox's slogan, and his new commie treatise will still go down in flames.
25 posted on 08/12/2003 9:09:58 AM PDT by Astronaut
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To: dead
"The words "fair and balanced" belong to nobody."

Fox seems to think they belong to them. They'll lose, of course. I seem to remember that Volvo trademarked the phrase "Drive safely." I don't think they won any of their cases.

This is all nonsense, but I suppose it will provide publicity for Franken's book.
26 posted on 08/12/2003 9:11:39 AM PDT by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: El Conservador
I don't think Fox has much of a case.

It would be interesting to see how it works with the other side. For example if I published a new book about Jayson Blair and gang titled: "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. All the News That's Fit to Print About the Left", would the New York Times have a case against me?

27 posted on 08/12/2003 9:14:44 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (A flash mob of one.)
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To: Paul Atreides
Look at the cover, on face value. Forget what you know about Franken and FoxNews.

If you forget that Franken is a leftist schmuck, who hates anybody to the right of Lenin, and you forget that FoxNews is considered by many to be on the right, then the cover is deceptive.

The cover is not deceptive if you can tell just by looking at it that it is a parody of FoxNews. However, FoxNews maintains publicly that they are not a member of the VRWC. In fact, they publicly maintain that they are not on the right at all, but are, rather, "Fair and Balanced".

So, based on the cover alone, you have FoxNews personalities on the cover with a statement that the book is "Fair and Balanced". A reasonable person who does not necessarily subscribe to Franken's political views could well conclude that FoxNews was a party to the production of this work, rather than the target.

28 posted on 08/12/2003 9:17:12 AM PDT by gridlock (Remember: PC Kills.)
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To: Paul Atreides
This cover has everthing needed to make this book a best seller. Just look in the upper left corner of the picture. Now blow that up and get rid of the goof on the right side.


29 posted on 08/12/2003 9:17:15 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (A flash mob of one.)
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To: gridlock
But given the fact that the cover shows Franken standing in a TV control room with two of four TV screens showing FoxNews personalities, their case is strengthened.

Yeah, but Fox isn't suing because he wrote a book bashing them specifically. They're suing based on trademark infringement. And the book in no way pretends to not be bashing Fox (to win trademark he'd have to be diluting their brand. Bashing doesn't dilute.)

30 posted on 08/12/2003 9:17:51 AM PDT by libravoter (Live from the People's Republic of Cambridge)
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To: KarlInOhio
Since when is Al Franken a "humor writer"? I would assume that a "humor writer" would have to be funny. Al "Crybaby" Franken is just a whining malcontent.
31 posted on 08/12/2003 9:18:35 AM PDT by exile
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To: dead
FYI

Typed Drawing


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Word Mark FAIR & BALANCED
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: entertainment services in the nature of production and distribution of television news programs. FIRST USE: 19961007. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19961007


Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 75280027
Filing Date April 23, 1997
Filed ITU FILED AS ITU
Published for Opposition March 3, 1998
Registration Number 2213427
Registration Date December 22, 1998
Owner (REGISTRANT) Fox News Network, LLC CORPORATION DELAWARE 1211 Avenue of the Americas New York NEW YORK 10036

32 posted on 08/12/2003 9:19:12 AM PDT by JustAnAmerican
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To: All
As I said on the other thread about this...The author, somebody named R. Jaggero, of "Double Take - Politically Incorrect Limericks" had it exactly right about this "big fat idiot." He also had it right about Bill Maher, Michael Moore and an assortment of other figures like Whoopi and Martin Sheen...Now if only the liberal media would give him the credit he deserves!

Check out the book's website here, it looks like their next book is going to be about photos taken in NYC but with a twist....

http://www.doubletakebook.com

Enjoy!
33 posted on 08/12/2003 9:19:45 AM PDT by rpage3
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To: exile
Since when is Al Franken a "humor writer"? I would assume that a "humor writer" would have to be funny. Al "Crybaby" Franken is just a whining malcontent.

hu·mor       n.
4.One of the four fluids of the body, blood, phlegm, choler, and black bile, whose relative proportions were thought in ancient and medieval physiology to determine a person's disposition and general health.

I'll put Franken's humor in the bile category, maybe with a little bit of phlegm.

34 posted on 08/12/2003 9:22:59 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (A flash mob of one.)
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To: gridlock
based on the cover alone, you have FoxNews personalities on the cover with a statement that the book is "Fair and Balanced".

The burden of proof is on Fox to show someone could be confused. And, while I know what you're trying to say, I bet that in a year you couldn't find five people who honestly would be confused as to this book's agenda.

There was a recent case in the south where a sex novelty shop (toys and such, I think) called itself "Victor's Little Secret". Victoria's Secret sued. The court ruled no reasonable person could have thought the two were related.

35 posted on 08/12/2003 9:24:22 AM PDT by libravoter (Live from the People's Republic of Cambridge)
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To: libravoter
I would agree that bashing is protected speech, as well it should be. Political parody is worthy of protection.

My point is that it is unclear based on the cover that FoxNews is not a party to the production of the book. Keep in mind that it is a far from settled issue that FoxNews (or Bush and Cheney for that matter) are on the political right. So the statments on the cover are not specific enough to counter the appearance, given by the use of FoxNews personalities and FoxNews logos, that FoxNews was a party to the production of this work.

36 posted on 08/12/2003 9:25:47 AM PDT by gridlock (Remember: PC Kills.)
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To: El Conservador
Al Franken is dumb enough, liberal enough, and doggone it, people hate him...
37 posted on 08/12/2003 9:28:42 AM PDT by subterfuge
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To: El Conservador
Al Franken is dumb enough, liberal enough, and doggone it, people hate him...
38 posted on 08/12/2003 9:29:16 AM PDT by subterfuge
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To: TomGuy
"Sorry FoxNews, you don't have any more right to those words than any other else does."

They have the right to exclude others from using them in conjunction with the provision of television news and entertainment services.

And that has not much to do with Franken's book.

39 posted on 08/12/2003 9:32:31 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed
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To: El Conservador
bump
40 posted on 08/12/2003 9:32:58 AM PDT by GOPJ
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To: John Beresford Tipton
"Yes, but if he did not appropriate their slogan as his, but rather used their slogan as "satire" then I think he's okay. Satire is protected."

Legally irrelevant. All that matters is whether the phrase is used on the same goods or services as by the original user of the phrase. Satire is no defense if used on the same goods, and a defense is not needed if the goods are different.
41 posted on 08/12/2003 9:34:41 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed
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To: Beelzebubba
They have the right to exclude others from using them in conjunction with the provision of television news and entertainment services

Satire directed at Fox is definitely protected from the trademark law you are citing.

42 posted on 08/12/2003 9:35:03 AM PDT by libravoter (Live from the People's Republic of Cambridge)
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To: gridlock
"Based on the words alone, I would say that FoxNews doesn't have much of a case. But given the fact that the cover shows Franken standing in a TV control room with two of four TV screens showing FoxNews personalities, their case is strengthened."

They have no trademark infringement case, since the goods are different. It doesn't matter if the cover is a close-up of Bill O'Reilly's private tattoo (though that might give rise to a different cause of action.)


43 posted on 08/12/2003 9:36:00 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed
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To: Beelzebubba
All that matters is whether the phrase is used on the same goods or services as by the original user of the phrase.

Agreed. But television news and satire directed at television news are not the same goods and services.

44 posted on 08/12/2003 9:36:05 AM PDT by libravoter (Live from the People's Republic of Cambridge)
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To: El Conservador
Franken.....humor?....I dont see the connection
45 posted on 08/12/2003 9:36:33 AM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: MineralMan
"The words "fair and balanced" belong to nobody."

"Fox seems to think they belong to them."

They do, but only in conjunction with news services.
46 posted on 08/12/2003 9:36:59 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed
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To: Beelzebubba
Oh, wait, I think we agree. (I hate when that happens ;->)
47 posted on 08/12/2003 9:37:37 AM PDT by libravoter (Live from the People's Republic of Cambridge)
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To: libravoter
"The burden of proof is on Fox to show someone could be confused."

You don't even need to go there when the goods are different.

"There was a recent case in the south where a sex novelty shop (toys and such, I think) called itself "Victor's Little Secret". Victoria's Secret sued. The court ruled no reasonable person could have thought the two were related."

No. The court ruled that there needed to be evidence provided to support the allegation of confusion. Such evidence regularly appears in trademark infringement litigations. (Note that the VS case both involved selling lingerie, while humor books and news programming are different goods/services.)


48 posted on 08/12/2003 9:39:39 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed
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To: El Conservador
wuss lib.

BUMP
49 posted on 08/12/2003 9:39:55 AM PDT by moehoward
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To: El Conservador
while Franken's definately a tit, Fox's case is pure B.S.
50 posted on 08/12/2003 9:45:33 AM PDT by tomakaze
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