14 October 2021CopyrightAlex Baldwin

P&G asks court to dismiss Febreze jingle suit

Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) has asked a New York court to dismiss a lawsuit,  claiming that its Febreze advert jingle is too generic to infringe on a copyrighted song.

The memorandum submitted to the US District Court for the Northern District of New York on Wednesday, October 13, argues that the complaint by singer-songwriter Cameron Cates should be dismissed for failure to state claim.

According to P&G and the jingle’s composer Jared Shlemovitz, the Febreze jingle is a “common” melody with a 3-2-1-2-1 pitch sequence in a scale-like progression.

They argue that the five-note scale that appears in Cate’s unreleased song “She Loves Her Job” does not constitute an “expression” eligible for copyright protection, featuring only a “de minimis quantum of creativity”.

P&G cites several famous songs released prior to Cate’s that employ the same melody including The Beatle’s “The Continuing Story of Bungalow bill” released in 1968 and “The Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las released in 1964.

The memorandum states: “The complaint is bereft of any allegations that would make it plausible to conclude that defendants directly copied plaintiff’s subject work or even had access to plaintiff’s subject work.”

“It is well settled that the basic building blocks of music and common phrases like the subject work are not, on their own, protectable.”

According to the original complaint, Cate’s song “She Loves Her Job” was recorded in late 1982, featuring the five-note hook that comprises a “substantial portion” of the song. The song was registered with the US Copyright Office in 1983.

In the original complaint, Cate also claims that a Febreze album called “The Freshness” released on Soundcloud infringes on his song, with each of the eight tracks containing the infringing jungle.

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