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March 15 — Lions Gate Entertainment can't pursue trademark claims against TD Ameritrade for a commercial that plays on a famous line from the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing,” the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled March 14.
The film's producer attempted to assert trademark claims over the line “No one puts your old 401(k)in a corner” used in an April 2015 commercial for TD Ameritrade Services Co. created by Havas Worldwide New York Inc.
Lions Gate Entertainment claimed that the commercial infringed and diluted its trademark interests arising from a pivotal line of dialogue from “Dirty Dancing,” in which a lead character played by late actor Patrick Swayze says, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
However, the court said that Lions Gate was trying to leverage its copyright interest in the movie into a trademark action, which is prohibited under Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 539 U.S. 23, 66 U.S.P.Q.2d 1641 (2003) .
“These actions are potential violations of Plaintiff's copyright in Dirty Dancing, but there is no trademark infringement or unfair competition based on trademark infringement,” the court said.
The court granted in part the defendants' motion for dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim for which the law offers a remedy.
The court's ruling was issued by Judge Dean D. Pregerson.
Lions Gate was represented by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Los Angeles. TD Ameritrade and Havas were represented by Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP, New York.
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