The latest legal battle over a name: Fox News vs. Al Franken

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Michael Reuben, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Comedian Al Franken and his publisher have been sued by Fox News Channel over the title of Franken's upcoming book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Fox wants the title changed, claiming a trademark on the phrase "fair and balanced". The suit was filed on Monday, August 11, in New York City.

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/book....ap/index.html

    This one promises to be even more interesting than the Spike Lee/SpikeTV battle.

    M.
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Great press for Al Franken's book, I'm sure he's loving this!!! I remember his "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" book that was hilarious!
     
  3. Van Patton

    Van Patton Second Unit

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    I just got done reading Al's latest book and it is great. It's a tongue-in-cheek advice book that made me laugh out loud several times. It's called "A Guide To Success, or failing that, Happiness."
     
  4. Paul_Medenwaldt

    Paul_Medenwaldt Supporting Actor

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    Oh boy, there is a lot of bad blood between these parties.

    There is a history of loud verbal exchanges between Al and Bill O'Reilly and Shawn Hannity.

    Paul
     
  5. Mark Schermerhorn

    Mark Schermerhorn Second Unit

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    The exchange between Franken and O'Reilly at that book expo in LA a few months back was absolutely classic. Sad as a debate, but classic for humor and karmic payback for O'Reilly. I'm such a geek that I watched it live on C-Span.
     
  6. Patrick Larkin

    Patrick Larkin Screenwriter

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  7. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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  8. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > This one promises to be even more interesting than the Spike Lee/SpikeTV battle.

    At least this one supposedly involves a registered trademark.
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  10. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Franken is using "fair and balanced" deliberately, as satire. Isn't the whole point of the title of the book that he doesn't believe that the network in question presents fair and balanced news?

    I don't fully understand the trademark laws of the United States, but I'm pretty certain that he'll be able to successfully argue that the title is deliberately satirical.
     
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I haven't seen the complaint, but it's not clear whether Fox News is claiming under U.S. trademark laws. The case was filed in state court, not federal, which is where a federal trademark case would usually be sent. They may be proceeding under the same state laws used in the SpikeTV case, since they too are seeking a preliminary injunction (presumably to halt publication).

     
  12. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    It certainly seems to be boosting pre-orders for Franken's book. http://1.junglescan.com/scan/details...5947647&days=7

    According to internet rumor-monger Matt Drudge, O'Reilly himself pushed for the lawsuit. I guess O'Reilly's personal grudge against Franken is clouding his judgement.
     
  13. Mark Schermerhorn

    Mark Schermerhorn Second Unit

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    I believe US trademark laws allow for satire. Of course, what qualifies as satire is open to debate, which is probably what will occur.

    Patrick, the link posted by Phillip is accurate, but a bit nebulous. I'll summarize a brief portion of the "talk and debate" as I saw it.

    Frankken was given 15 minutes to talk about his book, which is about pretty much what the title says it is. He used the time to rip into several well known right wingers, and since O'Reilly is on the cover and was conveniently seated to Frankken's left, he proceeded to tear into him as well, with much exuberance. He spent a good 20 minutes ripping on him (he went 35 mins total), while O'Reilly had to just sit there and take it. The look on O'Reilly's face told me he was ready to kill. After Frankken finished, O'Reilly yelled at Frankken for several minutes, followed by a "debate" that consisted of Frankken baiting O'Reilly and O'Reilly yelling back. A disgusted Molly Ivins, who was also present, got a few words in, but not many.

    I referred to Frankken's lambasting of O'Reilly as karmic payback because O'Reilly uses his show on Fox News as a bully pulpit. When the tables were turned, he almost lost control of himself.
     
  14. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    People like O'Reilly typically do. Franken can and will run rings around him in any debate. Frankly I can't wait to read the book
     
  15. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    GIVE ME A F'N BREAK.


    This is just friggen ridiculous.
     
  16. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    I read some replies to this when the story hit Yahoo's front page:

    It's pretty obvious that if a new soup company comes into the marketplace and uses the phrase "Mmmm! Mmmm! Good!", then I can see (and justify) Campbells concern.

    The grey area comes into play when we start trademarking everyday phrases:

    Should "Fair and Balanced" be a trademark? It almost sounds too generic. Kinda like trademarking the phrase "This is my story" and then not allowing anyone to ever use that phrase when they write an autobiography.

    p.s. If Fox is really "Fair", then they'd let Al use the phrase [​IMG]
     
  17. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Fox News: We Report; You Concur [​IMG]

    Franken's book is now #1 on Amazon. [​IMG]
     
  18. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > O'Reilly uses his show on Fox News as a bully pulpit

    Well, it is his show, not a news broadcast. Same for anyone else's TV or radio talk show.


    I wonder how well an Al Franken book would sell if he didn't link himself to someone or something much more popular than him. I wouldn't have known he had a new book if he hadn't used the phrase in the title that led to all this.
     
  19. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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  20. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    Franken is not "linking" himself to anyone. After all this book is not exactly aimed at fans of Fox News or Bill O'Reilly (both of which BTW seem to spend a great deal of time putting down things much more popular than themselves (i.e. the mainstream media)).
     

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