Madonna faces pornographic Trade Mark claim

March 2012

Artistes, music publishing

News reaches us of a tale involving Madonna, her single called Girls Gone Wild‘ (click for link to YouTube video), an adult film company called ‘Girls Gone Wild’ and this year’s Super Bowl. The IPKat reports that a certain Mr Joe Francis founded Girls Gone Wild Brands LLC, a company which produces the Girls Gine wild series. The description of the company website in a Google search reads ‘Girls Gone Wild is home to some of the hottest girls in America. Francis, through his company GGW Marketing LLC, owns the registered trade mark GIRLS GONE WILD in the US in for services in Class 41. The specification for this mark reads:

‘Entertainment services, namely, providing a web site featuring adult entertainment, adult content videos, related film clips, photographs, and other multimedia materials, featuring adult entertainment, webcasts in the field of adult entertainment, events, namely, promotional parties for various venues and vendors’.

Madonna is due to release her 12th studio album MDNA in March 2012 before embarking on a world tour. One of the songs on MDNA is called ‘Girls Gone Wild’. To promote her album, Madonna agreed to perform at the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVI on 5 February 2012. There were rumours that she would perform ‘Girls Gone Wild’ and this prompted Francis to send a cease and desist letter to Madonna and ‘her co-conspirators’ (ie NBC and the National Football League), threatening to take action if Madonna sang ‘Girls Gone Wild’ at the Super Bowl or included it as a song title in MDNA alleging inter alia, unfair competition, and false designation of origin, trademark infringement, and trademark dilution adding:

“My client is ready and willing to pursue legal action against Madonna and her co-conspirators for her flagrant attempt to syphon value from Girls Gone Wild trade identity. Nonetheless, costly and extensive litigation may be avoided if Madonna and each of her co-conspirators immediately agree to the following: (1) cease and desist all use of Girls Gone Wild trade identity and trademark; (2) account for the number of times Madonna and her co-conspirators have utilized the phrase Girls Gone Wild representing a violation of my clients’ trade identity and trademark; (3) negotiate an immediate licensing agreement for use of the Trademark; (4) agree to pay Mr Francis’ attorney’s fees associated with this matter; and (5) agree that Madonna shall not perform or market the song at the Super Bowl this Sunday. We look forward to receiving your response no later than 5:00pm February 3, 2012.

The IPKat was somewhat sceptical about the claim, we are we but the song title and lyrics did change from “Girls Gone Wild” to “GIRL Gone Wild”, Was this down to Joe? Well, Madonna’s manager, Guy Oseary, said the singer never received the letter and that the song’s name change had nothing to do with the film company’s claim. He told TMZ that the title of the song was changed because Madonna uses the singular form — “girl” — when she sings the lyrics.

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