The Peacock’s search for new comedy talent might have to find itself a new name. NBCUniversal was hit with a trademark infringement compliant (read it here) this week by a L.A. group trains people in the art of the funny under the name Comedy Playground. Earlier this month, NBC’s Entertainment President Jennifer Salke announced the national NBC Comedy Playground campaign that would offer up-and-coming comedy writers a chance to pitch ideas to the network. The two winners would get a half-hour show each on NBC for next summer. Not so fast, says the other Comedy Playground in its suit filed April 23 in federal court. “The harm caused by NBC’s actions to Comedy Playground and its reputation is devastating and irreversible,” says the 13-page filing of the network’s contest set to start May 1. “Even though NBC’s contest has not yet formally begun, Comedy Playground has already experienced multiple instances of actual confusion. If permitted to continue, NBC’s use of the COMEDY PLAYGROUND name and mark will deceive the public about the relationship of the parties and effectively obliterate Comedy Playground’s hard earned reputation and goodwill.”
Having used the registered name since 2002, the Hollywood-based plaintiffs want unspecified damages and profits plus a court order of trademark infringement against NBCU and to halt the network from any use of the Comedy Playground name. Although it estimates that the amount will exceed $75,000, Comedy Playground LLC isn’t specific about money. It is, however, very direct in its request for a jury trial about the heart of the complaint against the media giant. “NBC’s actions are also likely to cause ‘reverse confusion,’ i.e., NBC will so saturate the market with its COMEDY PLAYGROUND mark that Comedy Playground’s reputation and goodwill will be dwarfed and consumers will erroneously believe that Comedy Playground’s services emanate from or are sponsored by NBC,” notes the complaint. An NBC spokesperson had no comment on pending litigation.
The comedy training group are represented by attorney Alan Jay Weil of LA firm Gaims Weil West LLP.