Forward to next post: …that through these, Bugs Bunny may become a partaker in the divine nature…
Fox News Network is suing Al Franken and the Penguin Group (and yes, Dave, it would be a great name for a rock band) in an attempt to keep them from using the phrase “fair and balanced” in the title of Franken’s forthcoming book.
Why? Because, FNN says, they registered “Fair & Balanced” as a trademark in 1995.
I’m sure this comes as a surprise to everyone who thought that (1.) “fair and balanced” was a common phrase in journalism (I remember my old high school journalism teacher writing it on the board), and who (2.) thought that FNN’s slogan was “We Report, You Decide” (universally rendered as “We Distort, You Deride”).
But no. They say it’s their registered trademark, and that they now own this common phrase. This is a maneuver on par with LucasFilms trying to trademark “galactic empire” (which would only have been appropriate if George Lucas were Edmond Hamilton’s secret love child). Nevertheless, today in Manhattan, FNN filed a trademark infringement lawsuit, seeking a court order that would force Penguin to retitle the book currently known as Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. They’re also asking for unspecified damages.So how do they figure these damages? Like this:
Franken’s “intent is clear - to exploit Fox News’ trademark, confuse the public as to the origins of the book and, accordingly, boost sales of the book,” the suit said.The news story inexplicably fails to note whether their lawyers managed to keep from giggling when they said that. In summary:
1. Fox News Network, which has a different and perfectly well known (if universally disrespected) trademark slogan, asserts that because, I don’t know, they got the court drunk or something back in 1995, they have sole use of the common journalistic phrase, “fair and balanced”.I can only think of three possible explanations for this filing. One is that it’s simple harassment, a shameless misuse of the court system. Another is that Fox News Network’s legal staff is so stupid that they have to be regularly reminded to breathe. The third is that they’re all secretly Al Franken fans, and are trying to drum up publicity for his new book.
2. Fox News Network thinks people automatically associate “fair and balanced” with “Fox News Network”.
3. Fox News Network thinks people so invariably associate “fair and balanced” with “Fox News Network” that they’ll believe a book with those words on the cover will be mistaken for a Fox News Network product, even though the book is by Al Franken (well-known author of Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot), is about the shameless chronic mendacity of the far right, and is clearly identified as being published by Penguin, not FNN.
4. Fox News Network thinks Al Franken will sell more copies of his latest book if people think it was published under the auspices of Fox News Network.5. FNN wants to change the title of a book a month before its pubdate. That right there is a flogging offense all by itself.
Consider putting in an advance order for it, next time you’re in a bookstore.
Addendum: Mary Kay Kare and Mike Kozlowski have come up with a possible explanation for this splenetic and nonsensical lawsuit: Al Franken called Bill Reilly on his lies during a panel discussion at Book Expo America 2003. Thanks, Mary Kay; thanks, Mike.