By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The owners of a UFO-themed magazine in Cody are suing a television network in federal court over alleged copyright infringement, claiming they own the term “UFO” for entertainment purposes.
The owners of UFO Magazine, who are not individually identified lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, are arguing that Showtime infringed on the magazine’s trademark of the acronym “UFO,” an acronym for “unidentified flying object.” The magazine trademarked “UFO” in 2007 for entertainment purposes and renewed the trademark in 2017, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit stems from Showtime’s airing of a docu-series “UFO” in 2021, which dealt with unidentified flying objects. According to the Showtime website, the series “explores our fascination with UFOs and the influence government, private companies and the military may have in shielding the truth.”
The magazine’s first commercial usage of the term was in 1998, the same year the company was formed, and the owners’ attorneys argued that the magazine has been in talks about developing either a television show or movie, with talks taking place as recently as last year.
“The ‘UFO’ trademarks are very valuable intellectual properties of UFO Magazine,” the lawsuit said. “UFO Magazine has invested substantial time, effort and resources in developing its signature mark and substantially more resources in using the mark to identify and promote its media products.”
The magazine sent Showtime a cease and desist letter in December 2021 regarding the “UFO” series. However, Showtime has continued streaming the show, advertising and promoting it after receiving the letter, the lawsuit said.
The magazine owners are asking for Showtime to be barred from using the “UFO” term in any materials and also for the channel to pay for punitive damages, attorney fees and any other costs the court deem rightful.
According to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, the magazine’s president is Peter Kuyper of Cody. Its legal representative or “registered agent” is Lisa M. Price of Jackson.
The magazine’s initial filing to be registered as a business in Wyoming was done in 2018. It was founded in California in the 1990s.
The term “U.F.O.” first appeared in military accounts about unidentified flying objects in the 1950s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.