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Bryan E. Kuhn
Counselor at Law, P.C.
Business & Employment Law Attorney

Network and production company tangle over name and image use

The company behind the iconic television series “I Love Lucy” is suing the network the show originally ran on over a name dispute. The company, founded by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1950, alleges that the television network is using an identical image and name. The company claims that the use of the same name by the network is causing issues with the studio’s existing creative-development deals.

The case revolves around whether the network holds the common law trademark rights to the production studio’s name, a type of intellectual property, and any images related to it. The company, which relaunched as a group of technology-based media companies in 2013, also alleges that the network’s actions have contributed to reduced commercial potential for the studio.

The value of the company’s stock was eventually transferred to the network when the original company was dissolved and absorbed by another studio. However, the company alleges that the rights to its productions were not transferred, even though the network claims they were. The production company is also seeking compensation for activities that the network profited from by using the studio’s name and image.

A case like this illustrates how a trademark dispute can quickly become a complex case with multiple issues and circumstances. What a business lawyer may be able to do is trace the history of the trademarked name to determine ownership. This process sometimes involves tracking changes in ownership and evaluating the nature of the contracts related to such deals.

If it’s determined that a trademark was misused by another party, an attorney may be able to seek appropriate compensation. This sometimes includes profits earned from a trademark that another party wasn’t legally entitled to use. Compensation may also be sought if a company’s ability to make a profit from a trademark has been irreparably damaged.

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