One of the most popular television shows of the 2000s, which was part mockumentary, has a very real lawsuit in the works.
What Happened: Based on the BBC show of the same name, “The Office” aired for nine seasons in the U.S. on Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA)-owned NBC.
NBC is the company behind a lawsuit over the Dunder Mifflin trademark. Dunder Mifflin is not a real company but was the name used in the show for the Pennsylvania-based paper company.
As reported by trademark attorney Josh Gerben of Gerben Law, NBC filed a lawsuit against Jay Kennette Media Group LLC on July 1. The trademark alleges that Jay Kennette Media Group violated trademark rights by selling Dunder Mifflin items based on “The Office.”
As Gerben points out, the interesting item in the lawsuit is that the defendant was awarded a trademark to the brand in 2017 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The awarded trademark included hoodies, athletic apparel, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and graphic T-shirts all with the Dunder Mifflin name.
“Allowing this trademark to register was a big miss by NBC and its lawyers,” Gerben said.
Despite the defendant owning a trademark on the fictional company name, Gerben sees a strong case for NBC in the courtroom.
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Why It’s Important: NBC is suing Jay Kennette Media Group for damages, attorney fees and all profits made from the sale of goods.
According to a Deadline report, NBC labeled the defendant as a “trademark squatter.”
The case could be an important reminder for companies to make sure they register trademarks for their associated brands and prevent others from trademarking the names.
“The Office” remains one of the most syndicated shows on television and currently streams on Peacock, the streaming platform from Comcast after several years of availability on Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX).
Photo: Courtesy NBCUniversal