Chuck Norris Sues Penguin Group

On December 21, 2007, Chuck Norris sued Penguin Group in the United States Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York over a book they published in November 2007 titled The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 Facts About the World’s Greatest Human.  Norris is also suing author Ian Spector who runs several websites that promote the book.  The basis for the book and the websites are mythical rumors that have been circulating around the Interent since at least 2005, one of them being that Norris’ tears cure cancer.

The complaint filed by Norris which alleges various violations of federal trademark law explains that Mr. Norris is a famous celebrity, actor and author who is known world-wide.  In a fact that I did not know about Chuck Norris, the complaint also explains that he is the first man in the Western Hemisphere to be awarded an 8th degree Black Belt Grand master recognition in the Tae Kwon Do system.  Admittedly this fact may be of more interest to me than others given that I hold a 2d degree Black Belt from the World Tae Kwon Do Association.

In any event, the complaint goes on to explain that Norris uses his name, image and likeness to promote his professional services and to endorse merchandise and as a result carefully monitors and guards the use of his name, image and likeness.  The use of his name, image and likeness in the book and on the websites amounts to misappropriation and exploitation of Norris without his permission.

The complaint does not specify a dollar amount Norris is seeking, which is fairly common in federal complaints.  He does specifically ask for, among other things, all of the defendants’ profits, triple damages, punitive damages and his attorneys fees.  Additionally, he wants the domain names in question to be transferred to him as well.

It would seem to me that Chuck Norris has a strong case here and I expect he will win if this matter does go to trial.  Nevertheless, these types of disputes do not often go to trial, rather they are typically settled well in advance of trial.  The real question here is not going to be whether Chuck Norris is right, he almost certainly is right legally.  The real question should be what was Penguin thinking?

 

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One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for Patent Attorney Melbourne]
    Patent Attorney Melbourne
    February 9, 2011 11:52 pm

    I personally think that this claim has merit – regardless of being a parody; it is essentially a product infringing on his image. I too believe that he will be awarded what he is claiming for.