Retailer Calls Baloney on ‘Jersey Shore’ Lawsuit

     (CN) – Abercrombie & Fitch says Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino from MTV’s “The Jersey Shore” does not have a valid trademark lawsuit against it for banning his use of the apparel while selling its own Shore-inspired fashions.



     In a November lawsuit, Sorrentino and his company MPS Entertainment brought claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition and deceptive advertising against Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc.
     Sorrentino claimed that A&F “embarked on a grand worldwide advertising campaign using Sorrentino’s name, image and likeness to create brand awareness for its products by falsely claiming that [A&F] had offered money to Sorrentino if he would stop wearing [A&F]’s goods.”
     But this campaign was just a marketing ploy, and the retailer never sent the offer to Sorrentino, according to the complaint.
     Despite A&F’s claims that it wanted to distance itself from Sorrentino’s self-styled Situation, the retailer allegedly created a line that exploited catchphrases made popular by “Jersey Shore” cast members.
     A&F sold T-shirts that read “The Fitchuation” and “GTL,” the acronym that Sorrentino uses to reference the activities he does most: going to the gym, tanning and doing laundry.
     In a new motion to dismiss, A&F says Sorrentino “failed to state a plausible legal and factual basis for each of their claims.”
     Sorrentino wore green Abercrombie sweatpants during a “Jersey Shore” episode, and “based on A&F’s concern that the prominent display of its A&F logo would be viewed as an endorsement by A&F of the raucous behavior on the show, A&F sent a letter to MTV in which it requested that its marks be pixilated out of future episodes, and offered Sorrentino and other castmates money to stop wearing its products,” the motion states.
     “Press coverage regarding A&F’s offer to Sorrentino had also ceased until plaintiffs issued their own press release threatening claims against A&F,” the motion continues. “As such, any request for injunctive relief is moot.”
     Additionally, the First Amendment protects the creation of T-shirts that parody pop culture, A&F claims.
     Although Sorrentino has tried to register “The Situation” and “GTL” as trademarks, he does net own the terms, according to the motion. Thus, he cannot sue for trademark infringement.
     A&F also says the parody T-shirts do not create confusion, which is a requirement for a trademark-infringement claim.
     “The overwhelming dissimilarity of the marks in itself dooms plaintiffs’ claim, and the absence of other well-pled facts sufficient to overcome that dissimilarity supports dismissal,” the Dec. 12 motion states.
     A&F also filed a motion to strike irrelevant material from Sorrentino’s complaint.
     “If the court does not grant A&F’s motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, the court should strike redundant and immaterial matter from the complaint,” A&F says.
     Sorrentino’s lead counsel is Richard Wolfe.
     A&F is represented by Gerald Houlihan.

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