Summit Entertainment Sues Guy Who Registered Twilight.com In 1994 For Trademark Infringement

from the are-you-freaking-serious? dept

Movie studio Summit Entertainment has become somewhat notorious for its ridiculously over aggressive attempts to “protect” what it believes is its intellectual property. Just look at the list of stories, we’ve written about the company. It has shut down fanzines, stopped a documentary about the real town where Twilight is supposed to take place, sued a fashion designer for accurately noting that one of its jackets was worn by “Bella” in Twilight, been involved in a legal battle with Bath & Bodyworks for selling a body lotion called “Twilight Woods,” which had nothing to do with the movies, and pressed criminal charges against a fan who tweeted some photos from the movie set of the latest Twilight flick.

This is a company that has a massive entitlement complex, and a somewhat faulty notion of intellectual property law.

Its latest move is to sue the guy who owns Twilight.com — which he registered in 1994, eleven years before Stephenie Meyer published the first Twilight book and thirteen years before Summit Entertainment bought the movie rights to the book. The site, which is rather simple, does present some Amazon links to let people buy legitimate Twilight products (something you’d think Summit would like…).

The key complaint, once again, shows the technological cluelessness of Summit. The studio says that the site infringes with links to unauthorized Twilight contests and casting calls. But, as THREsq points out in the link above, Summit appears to be confusing the content found in the Google AdSense on Twilight.com with specific links put up by the site’s owner, Tom Markson. One hopes that Markson can find himself a good (pro bono?) lawyer who can explain to Summit and the court that this is not how trademark law works.

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Companies: summit entertainment

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Comments on “Summit Entertainment Sues Guy Who Registered Twilight.com In 1994 For Trademark Infringement”

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51 Comments
G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re:

Lots

http://web.archive.org/web/20030603183059/http://www.twilight.com/tops20.html

http://wayback.archive.org/web/19980601000000*/http://twilight.com

Though recently (last 3yrs or so) seems to be exclusively about the Sparkly crappy Vampire books

I see he know has a Twilight Zone link.. My advice would be to redo the site as a twilight zone homage, or something to do with Twilight itself, you know that time between sunset and full night ๐Ÿ˜‰

I can see the case that Summit might have. Seems like looking at the wayback machine you can see he states the website is not for sale unless a large sum is involved. Dunno..

CAPTAIN OBVIOUSsays:

Re: Re:

The article clearly states he purchased the site 11 years prior to the first book being published. Short of us assuming time travel it is impossible to substantiate the legitimate site owner had any possible knowledge of a book. More importantly these types of frivolous suits should be painfully punished by the courts. I really could care less what he bought the site for as the timeline makes the plaintiffs case a pile of crap

Anonymoussays:

I think the problem isn’t in the domain itself, but rather that since the movies have come out, the site has been shifted towards selling Twilight movie stuff via Amazon’s affiliate program.

While the site clearly isn’t the “official movie site” or anything like that, the quantcast number of 300,000 ranking would suggest something like 1000 people a day more more hitting the site. That suggests that it fails the old “moron in a hurry” test.

Basically, if the site wasn’t about the movie, and wasn’t trying to sell stuff from the movie, there likely wouldn’t be an issue.

Dansays:

Re: Re:

Not to mention that the guy is obviously a domain squatter. Sure, he bought the domain before the movie Twilight came out, but he also has links for Twilight Zone related material. It looks like he bought the domain with the intention of raking in revenue from any “moron in a hurry” who tries to go to that domain.

From looking at what has been there over the years, there has never been any real content on the domain. Before the book/movie it had no dedicated purpose other than to host various ads or link to other sites that have real content.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually, he isn’t a domain squatter at all. He didn’t buy the domain to make money from “morons in a hurry”, but he does appear to have shifted his business model to that level.

He could easily have used the domain for almost any other purpose (how about sunrise / sunset shots from around the world). He clearly is playing off of the movie.

Do you think he would have any income if the domain was genericdomain1078272.com ?

The rest answer itself, and makes me wonder why Mike supports this stuff.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Supports? No he doesn’t. He just points out it’s wierd to sue twilight.com for tradmarks when the site was there before the actual twilight series.

It’d be like me making a movie titled the legend of zelda then suing nintendo for infringement, some 20 years after they used the name first.

JackSombrasays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“It looks like he bought the domain with the intention of raking in revenue from any “moron in a hurry” who tries to go to that domain.”
Logical… until you realize he bought the domain before morons had anything to be in a hurry about

Someone jokingly points out below he would have a case against summit for infringement, but actually truth be told, he would have a stronger case against them than they would have against him…just become you become bigger/more famous does not give you greater rights than those who came first and this guy was “first”

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

So he had an 11 year head start, and Summit not doing due diligence missed the fact that he owns Twilight.com. I’d love to see the internal memo where they decided it wouldn’t be worth trying to acquire the domain.

Now they want to sue him for shoving a few ads up on a server he has had over a decade before the book came out, to help pay off the bandwidth spike caused by Summit not being able to communicate to their customers the websites they own.

This has happened before, YouTube and UTube.
UTube predates YourTube, should Google have the right to run this other company off because people are stupid?

Once upon a time, it was just a matter of commonly mixed up websites would post a link at the top of the page saying… did you really mean to go here? And that was the end of it.

Heck Opera had an amazing time dealing with Oprah fans. The queen of media didn’t try to crush them under her foot.

Summit wants the world to work exactly how they want it to, and when it doesn’t they just start suing to get their way. Had Summit invested any time into acquiring these things before the nuke hit, this would have been a non issue. The domain owner has done nothing wrong, he happened to own the right name (way in advance) at the right time. He isn’t offering full downloads of the movies, and most likely isn’t pulling in a million dollars from his links.

Summit once again needs to go pound sand and get over themselves. They do understand there are only X books in this series to cash in on, and then there is no more. Trying to wring a few more cents out of the cash cow just gets you bad press.

Perry Ahernsays:

The Wayback Machine

All anyone has to do is take a look at the Wayback Machine to see that this was just some guy’s private gaming and misc. projects site for years: http://wayback.archive.org/web/20080715000000*/http://twilight.com

Most of the time it went back and forth between links to PBEM games, info for organizations he got involved with like SCA, and a “coming soon” page that never delivered. It wasn’t until somewhere between the April 11 and May 3, 2008, snapshots that the first links to commercial products appeared, and they were for the Twilight Zone collections on Amazon. The first Twilight link appeared a few months later, also to Amazon.

This is just the story of some guy who bought a cool domain name way back before anyone really cared about them and toyed with it for years, then decided to try to make some money from it through sponsored links. There’s no infringement of any kind here.

hmmsays:

thanks for the giggle!

>They do understand there are only X books in this series.

Someone forgot their basic maths class……

Shitty books with no redeeeming value * number of idiots on planet*profit per cinema ticket^2 = release more books (regardless of whether or not we have any new ideas….just steal or rehash other peoples ideas or the previous books with a few names changes!)……FOR FUCKS SAKE WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE!!!!!!!

I think thats the correct formula.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re: thanks for the giggle!

No thankfully she has moved on from the sparkly vampires.
Her new series is about mermaids, I wonder if their scales will sparkle like diamonds on the sunlight… giggle

Another variable for your math formula, is the target demographic has been aging and getting other tastes. You’d think the number of “cougars” one could find at twilight screenings could prove this wrong, but there were just there to look at the hunky young men not the story.

Ash Crillsays:

AdSense

As Masnick notes, the site owner didn’t place any links to twilight-related sites on his page.

It is the AdSense and Adwords engines run by Google that place ‘twilight’ ads on the site. The engines are run by relevance algorithms.

If they really want to sue the right person, they need to sue the person running the twilight ads on AdWords as they are the ones linking to twilight-related content.

Surely it should be easy to get this cased tossed out, right?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: AdSense

“As Masnick notes, the site owner didn’t place any links to twilight-related sites on his page.”

The first link I see is “Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer,” which links to an Amazon page for the books.

Also, I think this is a case where he could be held responsible for the Twilight ads that Google serves for his site.

It will not be easy to get this case tossed. I actually think this case could win.

hmmsays:

monster

I don’t think monster cable went ahead with the Disney lawsuit.

I seem to remember sending an email a while back challenging monster to sue them (I used the phrase “you’ll be torn into teeny tiny unshielded pieces).

I got a reply from their lawyers saying they had no plans to challenge Disney (precisely because Disney would utterly obliterate Monster Cable from existence if they even tried)

dr evilsays:

its gonna happen to me

I have a domain.. had it for a decade. Got an email from a group who trademarked that name a couple of years ago. I wouldnt sell. In their trademark, they lifted text from my domain (copywritten, of course) that had nothing to do with their primary business and claimed it in their trademark application. All has been silent since. So I get to sue them for violating copyright when they come after me for trademark?

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