Paulie unsaturated

by Ron Coleman on July 4, 2011

What better way to pick up that slow DJ business than to hitch a press release to a preposterous trademark infringement claim?  Hint:  It involves an utterly phenomenal battle between intellectual property and journalism in the the New York Post, which no one but the publicity-seeking plaintiff wins.

But first, our story:

“Jersey Shore” star Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio was slapped with a $4 million trademark infringement lawsuit Thursday from a Connecticut DJ who claimed his business has been ruined by comparisons to the MTV personality.

Paul Lis of South Windsor, Conn., said he spent 40 years building up a reputation as the region’s “DJ Paulie” before DelVecchio began calling himself “DJ Pauly D” on television. . . .

“He formally trademarked [sic] the name ‘DJ Paulie’ and then came the ‘Jersey Shore’ which basically wiped him off the face of the map,” attorney Jose M. Rojas told NewsCore.

The lawsuit alleges that MTV itself flooded the internet with so much “Jersey Shore” content that it was virtually impossible to find Lis’ information or advertise on [sic] his website.

Sounds like rough going all around here — but believe me, it gets worse.  And how much worse can it get?  After all, how can you “ruin” someone who starts out as a “Connecticut DJ”?  What exactly is the up side on that?  Oh, $4 million you say?  Who knew?

Of course, if you were to run a Google search for DJ PAULIE CONNECTICUT — or go crazy and use PAULY — right now… you’d have one heck of an easy time finding him, now that he’s got, not only two turntables and a microphone, but his own lawsuit!

All of which means proving damages should be a snap, right?  Because this year, what with all the search-engine saturation his court filing has got him, Paulie will demonstrate that, best-case scenario, the DJ Paulie gig is a $4M proposition.  And why should MTV deprive DJ Paulie of his best case?  Trademark infringement-wise.

Or is it the other way around?  Because now that sounds like all that infringerating is making things better, not worse.  (Someone write this down:  ”File lawsuit; enhance Google search results.”)  Okay, we’ll let the jury sort that one out.

Well, how about the Post’s explanation of the theory of damages in the first place here?  ”[I]t was virtually impossible to find Lis’ information or advertise on his website.”  That makes it sound as if MTV was even flooding Lis’s website — to the point where you couldn’t even, um, advertise “on it.”

Typo, right?  Well, the fine state of intellectual property journalism in New York is finally hammered home with this beaut later in the article:

Meanwhile, DelVecchio applied for a slew of US patents attempting to copyright his own moniker.

Whoa!  Trademark… copyright … patents … monikers?

If indeed the test for a trademark infringement is a likelihood of confusion — and I’ve always been partial to the argument that it was — then there is definitely a trademark infringement here.  Because after reading this article I, for one, am completely confused.

What a train wreck.  Here the newspaper story about the lawsuit may be even worse than what reads like one pretty bad lawsuit.  Good thing professional journalism is keeping that edge and saving society from that blogging stuff.

The biggest irony?  The article doesn’t even mention the right of publicity — publicity being the the only thing DJ Paulie’s lawsuit definitely got right.

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07.12.11 at 9:26 pm

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1 Arizona Patent Attorney 07.26.11 at 5:58 pm

We’re assuming that “DelVecchio applied for a slew of US patents attempting to copyright his own moniker” is the journalist’s mistake. Perhaps not. Maybe he really did apply for a slew of US patents hoping to get a copyright on his name. I could go into a Nordstrom’s and ask the cashier for a cream cheese bagel and a parrot to feed it to – doesn’t mean I’ll get ‘em.

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