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 “HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE” YouTube video creator files intellectual property lawsuits

Recently, the creator of the “HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE” YouTube video filed a lawsuit against Kohl’s Department Stores alleging various federal trademark and copyright claims.[1] The Plaintiff published a YouTube video on January 18, 2011 which consisted of his comedic narration describing the traits of a honey badger.[2] The video became popular generating more than 75 million views on YouTube.[3] The Plaintiff subsequently obtained a copyright for the narration of the video and trademarks for the phrase “HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE,” which was repeated often by the Plaintiff throughout the YouTube video.[4] The Plaintiff’s trademark registrations are alleged to cover various goods including “shirts, audio books, computer application software, and plush toys” and the Plaintiff allegedly has sold a wide variety of merchandise under such trademarks.[5] The Plaintiff also wrote a book and a launched a mobile “app” based upon the YouTube video.[6]

The Complaint alleges that Defendant, Kohl’s has marketed and sold t-shirts bearing the phrase “HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE” without Plaintiff’s authorization.[7] The Complaint also alleges that the “HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE” trademark is famous and that Defendants have committed copyright infringement, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition and false designation of origin.[8] The Complaint requests monetary damages, recovery of attorneys’ fees, and an injunction to prevent further use of the Plaintiff’s copyright and trademarks by Defendants.[9]

Earlier this month the Plaintiff filed another lawsuit seeking to protect his intellectual property against Bed Bath & Beyond, among other Defendants.[10] This lawsuit alleged that the Defendants sold pillows and tumblers bearing the phrase “HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE” without Plaintiff’s authorization.[11] This lawsuit also alleged claims for trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false designation of origin.[12] It appears that both lawsuits are a concerted effort by the Plaintiff to police and enforce his intellectual property rights. Enforcement and policing of intellectual property is important, especially in the trademark context. A trademark owner who does not adequately police his/her trademark rights runs the risk of having the strength of the trademark weakened or diluted and also may be subject to a claim of abandonment. If you have any questions regarding the content of this article or on effective ways to police intellectual property please contact our office.

Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Shareholder

[1] See, Christopher Gordon v. Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc., et. al., No. 15-cv-8255 at Docket Entry 1 (C.D. Cal. October 21, 2015).
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id. [5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] See, Christopher Gordon v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc., et. al., No. 15-cv-8109 at Docket Entry 1 (C.D. Cal. October 15, 2015).
[11] Id.
[12] Id.