Third-Party Trademarks Live to Stalk ‘Walking Dead’ Creator

By Anandashankar Mazumdar

Dec. 1 — The creator of “The Walking Dead” franchise will have to keep fighting after a federal court refused Nov. 30 to find that a slew of applicants for “Walking Dead” trademark registrations on T-shirts and other items were infringing ( Robert Kirkman, LLC v. Theodorou , D.N.J., No. 15-8474 (MAS) (DEA), 11/30/16 ).

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey declined to grant summary judgment in the case brought by Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book series later adapted into a hit cable TV show. The defendants have filed 11 applications covering goods like T-shirts, coffee, bottled water and restaurant services.

Kirkman and artist Tony Moore began publishing “The Walking Dead” comic book series in 2003. AMC adapted it for television starting in 2010.

Robert Kirkman LLC currently holds four U.S. trademark registrations on “The Walking Dead” that cover, together, goods and services including comic books, fan club services, video recordings, sound recordings, video games, DVDs and TV series.

Kirkman has also applied for another registration on books, sculptures, clothing, games, toys and costumes. However, that application ran up against applications on a range of goods and services by Anna Theodorou, Phillip Theodorou and Mohamed Elkady.

Case Will Move on to Discovery Phase

Kirkman sued them, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, deceptive and unfair trade practices, and false designation of origin. He then moved for summary judgment on all his claims.

The court denied the motion after finding that Kirkman had not established that the defendants were actually using the disputed trademarks in commerce. If Kirkman chooses to continue pursuing his claims, the parties will have the opportunity to conduct discovery.

Robinson Miller LLC represented Kirkman. The defendants are representing themselves.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at AMazumdar@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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The text is available at http://src.bna.com/ksK.

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