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Judge Dismisses Cody Magazine’s “UFO” Trademark Lawsuit Against Showtime

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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.

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Wyoming Experts Love Trying to Identify UFOs

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Searching for UFOs

By Seneca Flowers, Cowboy State Daily

Two Wyoming experts on UFOs are reminding Wyoming residents that strange lights they may see in the state’s wide open skies are often terrestrial in nature.

Richard Beckwith, Wyoming’s director of the Mutual UFO Network and city attorney for Rock Springs and Samuel Singer, founder of Stargazing Wyoming, do not agree on what may have been responsible for a report of a UFO in Jackson.

A Jackson woman reported she may have witnessed an unidentified flying object and caught it on video. Singer, who has been staring up at the night skies since he was a child in Nevada, said after viewing the video that he believes the object is a drone.

“Is it definitely not a meteor and almost certainly a drone,” Singer said. “This object is by definition a UFO, an Unidentified Flying Object. However, in this case I think it is being flown by a human and not an alien.” 

Singer is near the Spring Creek Ranch area multiple times a week and often sees drones in that area.

Beckwith, who works with MUFON to educate the public about UFO phenomenon, agreed with Singer that the object was not a meteor, but questioned whether it was a drone.

“This is not a meteor,” he said. “It is, indeed, moving too slowly. It also does not appear to be either a small commercial or private drone because it traverses a wide, long path across the sky from nearly the horizon.” 

He added that the video could be analyzed by software to help identify useful information such as size, distance and speed.

“For now, I can only say that the object appears to be moving more slowly than a commercial airline, at an appreciable altitude, is bright and clearly cigar-shaped, and probably of appreciable size,” he later added. “I cannot tell you what it is.”  

Whatever the object may be, both sky watchers agreed people are too quick to believe such phenomena are always extraterrestrial.

“All that being said, most alleged UFO sightings can be explained by things such as meteors, airplanes, birds, balloons, fireworks, drones, etc.,” Beckwith said in an email. “However, a hard core of approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of UFO sightings remains unexplained. That is as true for Wyoming as it is anywhere else, perhaps even more so. People do see strange things in Wyoming, and some of them cannot be explained. This, unfortunately, is not one of those cases.”

Singer said he is skeptical of UFO claims in general, but as a viewer of the night skies he knows some phenomena are not typical.

“I’ve definitely seen a couple of these things I can’t explain,” he said. “Such as light jumping from one horizon point to another.”

But for all the light phenomena that cannot be explained, he too finds that many have common answers.

Singer said many of the lights people see are iridium flares. These flares are caused by Iridium satellites, which are communication satellites that have reflective panels. The panels will reflect light toward earth in various, sometimes seemingly strange, manners.

“They create a little point of light that moves quickly across the sky,” Singer said.

Another nocturnal light is often attributed to bolide meteors, which are very bright meteors or as Singer describes them “very large chunks of space debris.”

“Their dust trail is visible for a couple of seconds after,” he said. “They are audible. They create a sizzle. They are beautiful when you see them because they are full of color.”

However, Beckwith reminds people that not all experiences are explainable.

“Anomalous nocturnal lights are common in Wyoming,” Beckwith said. “More than 10 percent of them are unknown.” 

But he added those who report an encounter with an extraterrestrial craft are rare.

Richard Beckwith said if someone believes they may have witnessed an unexplained light event, the best thing to do is report it. If they can, they should also try to capture it with a photograph or video and include that in the report.

Beckwith sees MUFON as the best organization for investigating claims.

“They (MUFON) are the world’s oldest and largest civilian UFO organization,” he said. 

MUFON has been in existence since 1969.

“MUFON tries to identify or not identify an object,” Beckwith said. “We don’t skip to the conclusion ‘It must be from outer space.’ When people say these objects are alien spacecraft, it is purely conjecture.”

Singer also doesn’t mind when people ask him about the night skies or any light or objects they may have seen. 

“I love it when people get pictures or video and send it our way,” he said.

Singer said with the dark skies of the state, there are great viewing opportunities.

“Under a dark sky, more people are looking up and marveling at the beauty,” he said. “That’s one of the great things about Wyoming.”

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