The Walking Dead is easily one of the biggest shows on TV, both cable and broadcast, with tens of millions of fans tuning in. As the show has grown in popularity, the hit zombie series has branched out into video games, theme park attractions such as Halloween Horror Nights and even a spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead, set on the West Coast. While fans wait for Season 7 to debut this fall, Robert Kirkman, who created the comic books the show is based on, has found himself trying to shut down a restaurant in New Jersey that's trying to infringe on his trademark. However, these business owners aren't giving up without a fight.
The Hollywood Reporter reveals that, back in April, Robert Kirkman filed a lawsuit against Philip Theodorou, Steven Theodorou, Anna Theodorou and Mohamed Elkady, who are planning to open a New Jersey restaurant based on The Walking Dead. The April lawsuit revealed that the restaurant owners have filed 11 separate trademark applications for The Walking Dead as they raised money to open their restaurant. Robert Kirkman owns trademarks for entertainment services, fan club services and comic books, but he also has several other pending trademarks for several different merchandising items. The defendants filed a response to the lawsuit, where they claim that Kirkman has limited rights, since he almost named his comic Night of the Living Dead, after the 1968 George Romero film, before settling on The Walking Dead. Here's an excerpt from their response.
"[Kirkman] now seeks to intimidate and stop defendants from using the instant mark by initiating suit, alleging the defendants were profiting from a 'famous' name, yet the name was made famous by well-thought of authors writing about zombies, the walking dead, and the like for almost a century. Plaintiff never took into consideration the fact that what happened to Mr. Romero, could very easily happen to him."
The defendants claim that Kirkman has taken ownership over a term that has been in "common use" since the early 1900s, and that the title is not "distinctive" enough to merit trademark infringement. The response points to titles of several songs, books and other works, including the 1936 film The Walking Dead, which starred horror legend Boris Karlov. Robert Kirkman responded to the defendants by calling the other Walking Dead works "inadmissible hearsay," and that none of those works are using The Walking Dead as a trademark.
In January 2014, the defendants applied for a Walking Dead trademarks for zombie themed restaurant services, food and beverage items, cups, mugs and drinking glasses, lipstick and shirts. Kirkman not only filed a lawsuit against them, but disputed their claims at the Trademark Office. We'll be sure to keep you posted with any updates on this Walking Dead lawsuit. Hopefully Robert Kirkman doesn't get sued for the Star Wars Holiday spoof that the cast recently pulled off for Red Nose Day. That definitely falls into parody, so there shouldn't be a threat.