Judge Dismisses Cody Magazine’s ‘UFO’ Trademark Lawsuit Against Showtime
By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A U.S. District Court judge in Wyoming on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a UFO-themed magazine Cody against Showtime, calling the magazine owners’ claims “without merit.”
Judge Nancy Freudenthal wrote in her dismissal last week that the Showtime series “UFO” was protected by the First Amendment. She also said that the owners of UFO Magazine had not sufficiently proven how the series violated its trademark.
The UFO series features interviews, video and imagery, along with suspenseful music, to explore various historical, cultural and political aspects of the UFO subject,” Freudenthal wrote in his analysis. “Thus, the UFO series is a First Amendment protected documentary.”
The magazine filed for the “UFO” trademark in 2007 for entertainment purposes and renewed the trademark in 2017, according to the original lawsuit. The magazine’s owners were not individually identified in any of the lawsuits.
The lawsuit stems from Showtime’s 2021 “UFO” docu-series, which dealt with unidentified flying objects. According to the Showtime website, the series “explores our fascination with UFOs and the influence government, private business and the military can have in hiding the truth.”
Freudenthal also pointed out in her judgment that the Showtime series never displayed any images or articles produced by UFO Magazine, another reason that led her to dismiss the lawsuit.
“UFO Magazine uses the mark for text-based products including books, magazines, and electronic publications, while Showtime uses the mark for a streaming television series,” she wrote. “UFO Magazine does not allege any fact indicating that he directed a film or television series. This factor works in favor of Showtime.
In May, Showtime officials asked Freudenthal to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the company and the series were protected by the First Amendment.
“Despite the relevance of the title “UFO” to the content of the series, despite the fact that the title uses “UFO” in its commonly understood descriptive sense and despite the fact that UFO Magazine Inc. does not claim to have published a television series with a “UFO” title or that Showtime has explicitly misled viewers about the source of the series, [the magazine owners] claims its ‘UFO’ trademark prevents Showtime from using ‘UFO’ as its series title,” Showtime’s attorneys wrote in court documents at the time.
According to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, the magazine’s president is Cody’s Peter Kuyper. His legal representative or “registered agent” is Lisa M. Price of Jackson.
The magazine’s initial filing for registration as a business in Wyoming was made in 2018. It was founded in California in the 1990s.
The term “UFO” first appeared in military accounts of unidentified flying objects in the 1950s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.