Wednesday, November 05, 2008

E.S.S. Entertainment 2000, Inc. v. Rock Star Videos, Inc. (9th Cir. - Nov. 5, 2008)

I've read a lot -- and I mean, a lot -- of opinions by Judge O'Scannlain. And I've seen a lot of good ones.

But this one, in my view, is the most well-written of any of his opinions over past fifteen or so years. Concise. Funny. Insightful. Pithy. Irreverant. Wonderful.

Mind you, there's lots to play with here. It's a case in which an East L.A. strip club filed a trademark suit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto. You can't dream up better, or more interesting facts. At least to a certain crowd. So Judge O'Scannlain gets to say a ton of fun things that are both relevant and simultaneously humorous.

I'm not going to ruin any of the lines for you. Or even provide you with a sample. I'll instead make you read the whole thing. Trust me: As long as you're marginally culturally aware, even if (like me) you have never played -- or even seen -- single game of Grand Theft Auto, the time spent reading the opinion will be worth it, and will bring a smile to your face.

There's a lot there on the law as well, wholly apart from the fun. And I somewhat sympathize with the strip club owners: after all, I too wouldn't want my strip club characterized in a best-selling game -- as it is here -- as the prototypical incredibly seedy tittie bar. Even if (as it may well be here) that characterization could not be more accurate. I wouldn't like it, and would might well be inclined to bring a trademark claim. Though, as an attorney, I could also easily see why the judiciary might well reject such a claim.

I'd especially be upset -- were I a hypothetical strip club owner -- if the name of my place was the "Play Pen" but the makers of Grand Theft Auto, in the game, called it the "Pig Pen". Ouch. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Read the opinion. It's less than ten pages. It's a fun romp. You'll be glad you did.