Those Swanky Oscar Gift Bags Have Triggered A Lawsuit
When it comes to the Academy Awards you can’t help but think of the lavish gowns and expensive jewelry that comes walking down the red carpet. That’s not the only place where money gets spent, however. Over the last several years many of the nominees have also received gift bags worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. They’re about to become even more expensive, however, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just filed a lawsuit over the extravagant gifts.
While they’ve become known as "Oscar gift bags" the Academy actually has nothing to do with their creation or distribution. They’re actually put together by a third party, a company called Distinctive Assets. Ultimately it’s the fact that the public now knows them as Oscar gift bags that has become the issue at hand. The Academy doesn’t want to be associated with them, but feels that the marketing that Distinctive Assets has done makes it look like they are an official Oscar product. According to Variety, the Academy has been working with the gift bag distributor in recent years to attempt to deal with the promotions use of the Oscar name, which the Academy sees as infringing on their trademarks. This year, Distinctive Assets continued to use the Oscar name, using slogans like "Everyone Wins at the Oscars! Nominee Gift Bags" and the Academy now feels they had no choice but to file a lawsuit.
The Academy feels that Distinctive Assets' use of the Oscar name has the potential to "dilute the distinctiveness of the Academy’s famous trademarks and tarnish their goodwill." The suit requests an injunction against the gift bag company as well as trebled profits and damages due to the ongoing issues the Oscar’s have had.
There does appear to be another side to the Academy’s issue, however, which is that they’re not particularly happy with what’s in the bags to begin with. As we covered here, the bags include sex toys, and a free "vampire breast lift" procedure (which we’re still shocked is not a prosthesis for a sexy Halloween costume). With so much of the media talking about such things the Oscars want to be sure everybody is clear that they had nothing to do with it.
The Academy used to distribute gift bags themselves prior to 2006 but due to a minor issue regarding non-payment of taxes on gifts, they decided to pass that responsibility off to other parties after reaching an undisclosed settlement with the IRS.
If successful, the lawsuit could have a number of different effects. It could end up discontinuing the gift bags to the nominees entirely. Alternately, next we could find ourselves writing about something exceptionally generic, like the "Big Movie Award Nominee Gift Bag." We’re sure it will still contain absolutely ridiculous stuff.