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Oscar Targets ‘Hackademy Awards’ in Trademark Lawsuit
Threatened legal action by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could eliminate the ability of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails to title an annual event “The Hackademy Awards,” a 12-year tradition that highlights how tobacco use in movies influences young people to adopt the health-threatening habit.
The Academy contends that the Hackademy Awards trademark owned by Breathe California infringes upon the Academy’s own trademarks, possibly leading people to confuse the Hackademy Awards with the Oscars. Breathe California believes its Hackademy Awards is a clear example of parody, and in this case, parody designed to achieve a social good — helping prevent tobacco use from infecting new generations.
“Breathe California selected a name with a humorous and ironic twist to help call attention to an extremely important social issue — the pervasive use of smoking in movies and how that influences teens’ attitudes toward cigarettes. It’s impossible to believe anyone confuses the two events, and the Hackademy Awards in no way infringe upon or dilutes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ trademark,” said attorney Zachary Wadle, with the Sacramento firm of Weintraub Genshlea Chediak, which is representing Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails pro bono. “The organization’s mission is to reduce teen smoking through public outreach efforts and The Hackademy Awards has been one of Breathe California’s most effective vehicles in successful outreach.”
The issue is now headed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, an arm of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.