19 February 2016Trademarks

Academy Awards angered by ‘Swag Bag’ association

The organiser of the annual Oscars ceremony has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit centring on the “Oscars Swag Bags” that are being promoted by a marketing company.

In the last few weeks, several international news publications have reported on the “Swag Bag”, which is reportedly worth $200,000.

The bag, provided by marketing company Distinctive Assets, contains expensive gifts including a vibrator, a marijuana vaporiser and a “vampire breast lift”.

Distinctive Assets intends to hand out the bags to all attendees at the Oscars. The ceremony, officially called the Academy Awards, will be held on February 28.

But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), which manages the ceremony, said it does not give out gift bags and complained that the marketing company’s actions have caused confusion and may lead people to assume that it is connected with the bags.

AMPAS filed a lawsuit at the US District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday, February 16.

According to the complaint, the marketing company has used social media to promote the bag, including using the hashtag #OscarsSwagBag.

AMPAS added that Distinctive Assets sent press releases to news outlets and has misused its trademarks in the promotional material.

Articles by newspaper The Telegraph and Glamour magazine are cited as examples of reports that have added to the perception that AMPAS is connected with the bags.

CNBC, Fox News, The Washington Post, Forbes and The Hollywood Reporter also used the phrase “Oscar Swag Bag” in news reports, the complaint said.

“Distinctive Assets’s wrongful conduct has harmed AMPAS, including by causing it to spend significant resources to enquiries and comments relating to its lack of affiliation with Distinctive Assets and its gift bags and trying to correct the misimpressions Distinctive Assets has created,” the complaint stated.

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More on this story

2 March 2018   With this year’s Oscars just around the corner, WIPR looks at the IP infringement issues that have threatened to upstage the awards ceremony over the years.