Twilight studio sinks teeth into clothing company over Bella's jacket
From Drive's scorpion jacket to Back to the Future's Hoverboard and Potter's wands, movie merchandise is increasingly big business, even if not all of it is 100% legitimate. Now it seems even the makers of genuine items that have appeared on film may be restricted from using that screentime as a marketing asset in the US. Summit Entertainment – the studio behind the Twilight films – has successfully sued a clothing company which produces a jacket worn by Kristen Stewart in the popular vampire-themed romance saga.
US clothing brand BB Dakota began selling the blue denim hooded jacket two years prior to the release of the first Twilight film in 2008, but only began marketing it as an aide to help young girls land "the hottest vampire in high school" after Stewart wore the item on screen. The company says it received permission from Summit when one of its PR representatives asked a studio counterpart if it would be acceptable to highlight the jacket on its website along with an image of Stewart sporting it in the movie. The response came back simply: "OK".
Nevertheless, last year Summit issued a copyright and infringement claim at the US district court for central California. Judge Gary Allen Feess ruled in favour of the film-makers last week. Feess said Dakota's real error was in using the image of Stewart as Bella and the actual Twilight logo to promote the jacket. He rejected the clothing company's argument that its use was an example of "nominative fair use", meaning that the retailer was deploying the trademark to describe Summit's product rather than its own.
The jacket picked up a large amount of press after BB Dakota began marketing it as a Twilight accessory. MTV said the jacket "brings you this much closer to Robert Pattinson", while Stylist.com called it "love at first bite, er, sight" and SoJones.com described it as "very vampirelicious".
Feess has not yet awarded damages against Dakota, apparently on the basis that he is not convinced the Twilight brand is well enough known to justify an award on the basis of its trademark having been infringed. This despite the four films in the series so far having grossed more than $1bn at the global box office. Damages may yet be awarded following a full trial to examine the issues at hand.
The full transcript of Feess's ruling can be found here. Twi-hards still looking to get hold of the jacket in question need not weep too many undead tears into their popcorn: it is still available via a number of online retailers, minus the Stewart-themed marketing.