A federal judge ruled that a parody of the “Twilight” movie series did not infringe the trademarks of the original, but allowed the case to proceed on copyright infringement and trademark dilution grounds.
The makers of “Twiharder” filed a lawsuit in 2013 after receiving cease-and-desist letters from Summit Entertainment and Lions Gate Entertainment, the makers of the highly successful “Twilight” movies.
According to the 219-page complaint, the plaintiff
produced a feature-length motion picture entitled ‘Twiharder’ through its own independent methods and means of production, based on a 100 percent original copyrighted screenplay. Plaintiff’s motion picture, which was marketed with complete transparency as a ‘parody,’ utilized defendants’ vampire romance movie franchise as an object of ridicule, criticism and sociopolitical commentary.
Plaintiff charged that the defendants engaged in “ridiculous-to-insane overreaches of intellectual property law” in their attempt to block the parody from being released and distributed.
The defendants struck back with their own counterclaims.
The judge granted the parody-makers’ request for partial summary judgement on the counterclaims for trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false designation of origin, saying that Summit had failed to submit any evidence of actual consumer confusion between the real “Twilight” movies and the parody.
One of the makers of the $300,000 parody said that his side has been trying to settle the case for three years, and the judge has repeatedly urged the parties to settle.
The title “Twiharder” is based on the term “Twihard.” “Twihards,” as defined by the Urban Dictionary, are “Stupid obsessive people (mostly teenage girls) who are ‘in love’ with fictional characters and wouldn’t know a good book if it punched them in the face.” “Twilight” author Stephanie Meyer has been quoted expressing her dislike of the term.
Parodies (which mock a work or genre) and satires (which use elements of a copyrighted work to mock the work) can both be allowed as “fair use” under copyright law. The former are more likely to be considered fair use.
Summit had previously granted its permission for two authorized “Twilight” spoofs.