ExxonMobil Corp has sued FX Networks over its use of the second “X” in its new, comedy-centric network which, the oil company says, infringes on its interlocking XX’s. This double-cross brawl may come as a surprise to Dos Equis (that’s Spanish for “Two X”), which also has a double-X logo, and we assume the legal wrangling will be be watched with considerable interest by the XX chromosome, and the roman numeral for 20.
What has world’s largest publicly traded oil company ExxonMobil’s knickers so knotted is the interlocking-ness of FXX‘s “X’s” in its logo. “ExxonMobil has invested many millions of dollars for more than four decades in advertising and promoting” the logo, David Beck, ExxonMobil’s attorney, said in the filing today in U.S. District Court in Houston, a copy of which was obtained by Deadline (read it here). FX Networks and its studio affiliates, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. launched FXX network, and its offending logo, just last month. The network refused to drop the interlocking Xs when the oil company requested the change, according to the complaint. Because we are nitpickers: ExxonMobil’s logo features double-X’s that descend from left to right, while FXX’s logo ascends from left to right. Still, ExxonMobil served up examples of web postings, from such notables as GungHo, The Enchanted Goatee and JT_Kirk, decrying FXX’s effort to confuse TV viewers.
On page 8 of its complaint, ExxonMobil cites their internet postings:
- A comment on NeoGAF.com by user GungHo copying the FXX logo from a previous post and asking, “Were they inspired by the Exxon logo?”
- A comment on AVclub.com by user The Enchanted Goatee, stating “It looks like a misprinted Exxon logo. “
- A comment on TV,com from user JT_Kirk who says, “That FXX logo has to go, that is awful on a plate,” adding “Exxon is going to be pissed.”
- A comment on HeapersHangout.com from user lee4hmz, asking, “[W]ho thought it was a good idea to rip off Exxon?”
Irving,Texas-based ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company best known in TV circles as That Company That Dumped Masterpiece Theatre, is seeking a court order barring FXX from using the design “and any other mark confusingly similar,” along with damages. FX Networks, predictably, thinks ExxonMobil’s complaint is pure horseradish. “We are confident that viewers won’t tune into FXX looking for gas or motor oil and drivers won’t pull up to an Exxon pump station expecting to get It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” a rep for the company said in a statement emailed to Deadline.
For serious students of television, ExxonMobil’s suit throws their minds, such as they are, back to June of 2003, when filmmaker Shelton Jackson Lee sued Viacom over its plan to rename its TNN cable network as Spike TV. Shelton goes by the nickname Spike and lives in a world in which there is only room for one “Spike.” Himself. In papers filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Manhattan back then, Lee asked for an injunction against Viacom’s use of the name “Spike,” saying he never consented to the media conglomerate’s use of the name. In his complaint, Lee cited comments that had been made to him and his wife, about the re-booted network having the name Spike, as being evidence that Spike TV was a rip-off of Spike Lee. A judge ordered Lee to post a $500,000 bond a few days after Lee issued a temporary injunction against Viacom’s name-change plans. After a hearing, the judge raised the bond to $2.5 million, but the whole thing went away after the two parties reached the agreement, according to press coverage back then.