Third Party “Swag Bag” Prompts Academy to File Trademark Claims


So who’s behind those lavish swag bags that some Oscar nominees will walk away with on Sunday night? 

Maybe it’s a question of who’s not behind them—namely the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is suing a self-styled promoter over use of its trademarks. 

Worried that the world will think it’s officially sponsoring the over-the-top goody bags containing, among other items, coupons for breast lifts, the academy is seeking a preliminary injunction against self-styled Hollywood promoter Lash Fary and his company, Distinctive Assets LLC

The academy— which will host the 88th annual Oscars Feb. 28—is peeved about Lash’s use of the “Oscar” name in connection with a “swag bag” valued at more than $200,000 that has drawn ridicule over its cost as well as some of its contents. 

In February 2015, Fary and Distinctive Assets announced plans give a gift bag to Oscar nominees who had not won. Ever since then, according to the academy, it has been trying to get Fary to stop using its “Oscars” and “Academy Awards” trademarks in connection with his promotions. 

The 2015 Distinctive Assets gift bag included a $1,200 bicycle, a $20,000 astrology reading, and $5,000 in liposuction surgery. 

This year, Fary is at it again, promoting his “`Everyone Wins’ Nominee Gift Bag in Honor of the OSCARS®.” The 2016 gift bag raised digital eyebrows worldwide by including, among other things, a coupon for “Vampire” breast lift surgery, Fiera Arouser for Her (a device intended to enhance the female libido), a $250 pack of toilet paper, and a $55,000 trip to Israel. 

The Daily Beast called the swag bag “absurd.” TMZ said that the “official gift bag” included “a stupid amount of swag.” The New York Post referred to Fary’s gift bag as being one given “at the Academy Awards” even though the academy itself gives out no such swag bags. London’s Telegraph newspaper said the bag “shames women.” And GQ simply said, “It’s kind of trashy.” 

The academy said in its complaint that Fary’s gift bag infringes and dilutes its trademarks. The case is Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences v. Fary d/b/a Distinctive Assets, No. 16-01061 (C.D. Cal. Complaint filed February 16, 2016). It wants a preliminary injunction stopping Fary’s use of the trademarks, plus damages, its costs and Fary’s profits. 

We’ll see if an injunction comes in time to stop movie stars from getting Oscar-marked swag before heading to this year’s after parties.