May 17, 2013

Jenner & Block secured a victory for client Warner Bros. when a judge granted a motion to dismiss a trademark infringement complaint related to last summer’s blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises.  At issue was Fortres Grand Corp.’s allegation that the movie’s references to a fictional software called “Clean Slate” infringed Fortres’ real computer security software of the same name.  U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon wrote in his ruling, “Warner Bros.’ use of ‘clean slate’ in The Dark Knight Rises does not infringe Fortres Grand’s ‘Clean Slate’ trademark both because there is no plausible claim for consumer confusion and because Warner Bros.’ use of the mark is protected by the First Amendment.”  Judge Simon stressed the fictional nature of the software depicted in the film, noting that “no one looking for Fortres Grand’s software is likely to mistakenly buy a ticket to The Dark Knight Rises.”  The team representing Warner Bros. included Partners Andrew H. Bart and Andrew J. (A.J.) Thomas and Associates Kate T. Spelman and Julia B. Cherlow.  News of the matter was covered in media outlets including Law360 and The Hollywood Reporter.