Dockers Contest Generates Lawsuit Along With Videos

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MediaPost Publications

by Wendy Davis, Tuesday, Jun 3, 2008 7:45 AM ET LIvemercial ad company Dockers adLevi Strauss recently attempted to create some buzz among the Web 2.0 crowd for its “Dockers” brand by launching a high-profile user-generated video contest. But the initiative, announced by Jay Leno on NBC, had an unintended consequence–a lawsuit.

At launch, NBC and Levi Strauss asked people to create video ads, which they called “livemercials,” and submit them online. The companies promised that the winning “livemercial” would air June 13 on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” The streaming video was powered by San Mateo, Calif.-based Mixercast.

The problem: There is a 6-year-old online ad company also called Livemercial, based in Valparaiso, Ind., which happens to have its own streaming video player.

Livemercial May 15 quietly filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal district court in the northern district of Indiana. The company named NBC Universal, Levi Strauss, ad agency Draft FCB and Mixercast as defendants.

“Defendants’ unauthorized use of the Livemercial mark is likely to cause, and has already caused, confusion, mistake and deception,” the complaint alleges. Livemercial also said in the lawsuit that it was approached by representatives from two different companies at a recent trade show and was asked about the Dockers contest.

Livemercial asked for an injunction and damages. But the request for an injunction now appears to be moot. The companies stopped using the word “livemercial” in any promotions connected with the project after they learned of the lawsuit. The contest itself is currently dubbed the “Make Your Own Dockers Commercial Contest,” and not, as alleged when the complaint was filed, the ” ‘Dockers’ Livemercial Contest.”

J. Brian Hittinger, a lawyer for Livemercial, said the company would be willing to resolve the case outside of court. “It’s possible the matter will be settled,” he said. “Livemercial’s not trying to be difficult, but they are trying to protect their trademark.”

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