By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Owners of a UFO-themed magazine based in Cody recently asked a federal judge to allow their trademark lawsuit against television network Showtime to continue.
“UFO Magazine” is suing Showtime over the network’s use of the phrase “UFO” as the title of one of its programs about unidentified flying objects.
Showtime asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, arguing its use of the term is protected by the First Amendment, but UFO Magazine, which trademarked the term “UFO” in 2007 and again in 2017, said Showtime could use other phrases or words for the title of its program.
“Never mind that [Showtime] could have chosen any alternative and completely accurate words or phrases to describe its television show and never mind that UFO Magazine has invested time and resources in promoting and raising funds to develop a very costly television/film project — [Showtime] argues that it can take and use UFO’s trademarked title because UFO Magazine’s trademark fairly describes [Showtime’s] content,” UFO Magazine’s lawyers argued.
The magazine also argued that Showtime “regurgitated” stale alien-like tapes to market the show last year.
UFO’s attorneys also claimed Showtime was “openly pirating” the magazine’s property rights.
The lawsuit stems from Showtime’s docu-series “UFO” in 2021. 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 use of the term occurred in 1998, the same year the company was formed, and the owners’ attorneys argued that the magazine has been in talks as recently as last year about developing its on television show or movie, according to the initial lawsuit filings.
The magazine’s 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 paperwork to be registered as a business in Wyoming was filed in 2018. The magazine 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.