Business owners in New Jersey aren’t the only ones who can trademark certain attributes unique to their brand. Some actors can do the same thing with characteristics specific to their image. This is exactly what Alfonso Ribeiro is attempting to do with a popular dance he performed while on the hit 1990s TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The actor is suing a video game maker for replicating his famous, over-exaggerated moves. A different manufacturer has also been sued by the actor for doing the same thing.
The trademark law case revolves around a Tom Jones-inspired dance that has enjoyed continued popularity in the age of social media. A video clip of the dance featured on a popular platform has been viewed nearly 20 million times. A side-by-side comparison of the move from the show and in the game reveals that the dance motions of the character in the game are virtually identical to moves Ribeiro is in the middle of attempting to copyright.
The star’s lawyer contends that his client’s likeness and intellectual property were misappropriated by a company that’s profiting from his well-known dance move with a video game that has already attracted the attention of millions of players since its 2017 debut. Ribeiro’s attorney further alleges the company has used the actor’s likeness to earn record profits from downloadable game content. He also states that the company never approached Ribeiro to seek permission to use his iconic move in their creative endeavor. This same video game maker has previously been accused of profiting from the work of black creatives.
With a trademark protection case like this, an attorney usually attempts to show that a company is profiting from someone else’s work, image or unique traits without making an effort to share related earnings. It’s important to note that United States Patent Trademark Office does not enforce trademarks: It’s up to the owner do that. Successfully showing clear evidence of infringement of a trademark may result in back payments representing a share of the profits earned from trademarked intellectual property.