Gym, Tan, Laundry….Lawsuit
There’s quite a “situation” brewing over phrases like “Gym, Tan Laundry (GTL)” and “Twinning”. Pun most definitely intended. MTV’s parent company, Viacom is in the process of thwarting Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s plans to capitalize on these catchphrases he made famous playing
a suuuuuper-tanned-and-muscular dude with abs of steel and hair of glue himself on MTV’s reality show Jersey Shore.
Specifically, The Situation recently filed paperwork to trademark the phrase “Twinning” with the hope to plaster it on shirts, stickers, folders, and whatever else the tweens need these days as they prepare to go back to school. For those keeping score, “Twinning” is a portmanteau (the act of making two words into one) inspired by a “winning” moment on the show during an escapade with twins. “Twins! Winning! Twinning!” Voila.
But what The Situation may have in the sculpted abdomen department, he clearly lacks in contract-reading ability. Like most every reality “star” before him, prior to filming the inaugural season of Shore, Sorrentino signed a contract which, by its terms, granted the rights in “all ideas, gags, suggestions, themes, plots, stories, characters, characterizations, dialogue, text, designs, graphics, titles, drawings, artwork, digital works, songs, music, photography, video, film and other material whether or not fixed or reduced to drawing or writing, at any time heretofore or hereafter created or contributed by me which in any way relate to ["Jersey Shore"]… .”
So…yeah, basically everything he says, does, writes, eats, poops, and drinks in front of those omnipresent cameras is owned by MTV. Including (but not limited to) “Twinning,” of course.
Here’s the thing about contracts: they’re awesome. The reason we enter into contracts is to dictate actions in the future and spell out the consequences for acting contrary to the agreement (if such penalty isn’t dictated by a statute, ordinance, or other regulation).
We enter into contracts every day. Next time you hastily pull into that parking spot in the mall, before you bolt out to scout the aisles of Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret, read the back of your parking ticket. Notice that by taking that little ticket, the premises owner explicitly limits its liability—for theft, water damage, fire, or anything else that might go wrong while you diligently search for deals on designer goods and eat soft, fluffy cinnamon pretzel bites. Chances are you didn’t even read the contract. You surely didn’t go over the terms with your lawyer (Shame on you!).
When you got home from the mall, you probably installed the latest version of iTunes. Remember checking the box at the bottom and agreeing to “all the terms and conditions” before the download would commence? That, too, was a contract (with definitions of future conduct and how to proceed when unforeseen things may go awry).
But, for better or for worse, The Situation’s contract is wayyyyyy more valuable than a parking ticket contract or your iTunes contract. The potential for ca$h that may be generated from “Twinning” is a much bigger deal to a great number of important people than the liability potential of someone vandalizing your Honda Civic. And for that reason, Sorrentino was given a detailed contract (and presumably reviewed it with competent counsel) with clear-as-day language in it.
Why he’s trying to misappropriate catchphrases that clearly stopped belonging to him the moment they left his lips is confusing, and it’s ultimately a big waste of time, lawyering, and money.
That said….dude’s got great abs. There is no denying that.