By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A U.S. District Court judge in Wyoming on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Cody UFO-themed magazine against Showtime, calling the magazine owners’ claims “meritless.”
Judge Nancy Freudenthal wrote in her dismissal last week that the Showtime series “UFO” was protected under the First Amendment. She also said that the owners of UFO Magazine did not sufficiently prove how the series infringed on its trademark.
The UFO Series presents interviews, videos and images, together with suspenseful music, to explore various historical, cultural and political aspects of the UFO topic,” Freudenthal wrote in her analysis. “Thus, the UFO Series is a documentary protected by the First Amendment.”
The magazine trademarked “UFO” in 2007 for entertainment purposes and renewed the trademark in 2017, the initial lawsuit said. The owners of the magazine were not individually identified in any of the lawsuit filings.
The lawsuit stems from Showtime’s 2021 docu-series “UFO,” 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.”
Freudenthal also pointed out in her judgment that the Showtime series never displayed any images or articles produced by UFO Magazine, another reason that led her to dismiss the suit.
“UFO Magazine uses the mark for text products including books, magazines, and electronic publications, while Showtime uses the mark for a streaming television series,” she wrote. “UFO Magazine does not allege any facts indicating that it has made a movie or television series. This factor weighs in favor of Showtime.”
In May, Showtime officials asked Freudenthal to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing the company and series were protected by the First Amendment.
“Despite the relevance of the ‘UFO’ title to the content of the series, despite the fact that the title uses ‘UFO’ in its commonly understood descriptive sense and despite the fact that UFO Magazine Inc. does not assert that it has released any television series with a ‘UFO’ title or that Showtime explicitly misled viewers about the source of the series, [the magazine owners] claims its ‘UFO’ trademark prevents Showtime from using ‘UFO’ as the title of its series,” Showtime’s attorneys wrote in court filings at the time.
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.