Chubby Checker, whose real name is Ernest Evans, is suing Hewlett-Packard for trademark infringement.(1) Iconic music entertainer Checker rose to fame when his song "The Twist" first reached number one in the charts in 1960, and his appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand helped to spawn a national, if not international, dance frenzy. His 2008 song "Knock Down the Walls" reached the top of the dance charts and sparked a brief comeback for the music legend.

Ernest Evans Corporation, one of Checker's companies, was originally granted trademark rights for the use of his name in connection with musical performances. Later The Last Twist Inc, another of his companies, was granted trademark rights for CHUBBY CHECKER'S in connection with food products, based on the release of a line of snack foods.

The Chubby Checker mobile app ostensibly enabled users who downloaded it to calculate the size of a male penis based on the individual's shoe size. The development shop Magic Apps (now defunct) had promoted the international appeal of the app, noting that it allowed calculations based on US, UK and European shoe sizes.

Lawyers for Checker had sent Hewlett-Packard a cease-and-desist letter in September 2012 and apparently the app was removed from all Hewlett-Packard or Palm-hosted websites later that month. In a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, lawyers for Checker claim that the app did "irreparable damage and harm" to the entertainer's name and reputation. They are seeking an injunction and asserting claims of millions of dollars in damages arising from the app that Hewlett-Packard made available on Palm mobile devices from 2006.

The suit alleges that purchasers of the app, as well as anyone simply browsing the webpage, had been misled into believing that Checker had endorsed the app, and that the use of his name would confuse users who might reasonably conclude that the singer had some association with the app bearing his name.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants made millions of dollars exploiting Checker's name and claims that:

"[the] Defendants' use of the name 'Chubby Checker' in its app is likely to associate the plaintiffs' marks with the obscene, sexual connotation and images evoked by defendants' app 'The Chubby Checker.'"

For further information on this topic please contact Joseph I Rosenbaum at Reed Smith LLP by telephone (+1 212 521 5400), fax (+1 212 521 5450) or email (jrosenbaum@reedsmith.com).

Endnotes

(1) Evans v Hewlett-Packard Company, Case 2:13-cv-14066-JEM.

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