It was in July 2015, that we first told you about the repeated attempts to register THE WALKING DEAD trademark by a group of people not related to the television show or comic book series. Now, Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, dropped a pending lawsuit over a planned “Walking Dead” restaurant but this dispute is not quite dead yet.
The Theodorou clan, Phillip, Steven and Anna, have no relation to The Walking Dead, neither the television series nor the comic book series, but this didn’t stop them from trying to capitalize on the success of the trademark. The group started to register several trademarks to cover THE WALKING DEAD in many different classes including cigars, t-shirts and even restaurant services and cosmetics. These registrations were first reported by Pirated Thoughts way back in the glorious summer of 2015 and, since this time, Robert Kirkman has struck back with a lawsuit to stop the hijacking of the trademarks.
Kirkman filed a motion for summary judgment in the pending action that could potentially end the case in Kirkman’s favor. In his papers, Kirkman claims that the the Theodorou’s are merely “interlopers” who developed a business plan to take the mark and open a restaurant with the name. Kirkman wants the case closed, the defendants labeled as infringers and their unlawful activities stopped. In his motion, Kirkman discloses that The Walking Dead comic series has grossed more than $12 million and that licensing revenue has added up to over $5.8 million; this does not include revenue that the television show has generated. While Kirkman argues that there are no plans for him to open up his own restaurant with a zombie waitstaff there is a high degree of probability that consumers of The Walking Dead restaurant would be confused to think that the eatery is affiliated with or licensed by Kirkman, when it is not
in November, the court denied the motion holding that the WALKING DEAD mark was not yet in use in commerce because the restaurant wasn’t opened. Without the use of the mark being in commerce, there technically is no infringement. Kirkman dismissed the case and will instead head to the Trademark Office to fight the trademark registrations. So big question, what the heck happened?? Seems like Kirkman’s attorney dropped the zombie head here and I can’t even imagine how much that mistake costs. So this fight will live on.