LOS ANGELES – NBCUniversal Media is suing in Los Angeles over what it alleges is the fraudulent trademark registration of Dunder Mifflin, the name of the fictional workplace featured in the hit sitcom “The Office,” according to court papers obtained Tuesday.
The complaint for trademark infringement takes aim at the Jay Kennette Media Group and its owner who have “built a business based on registering trademarks belonging to others” in order either to sell the marks back to their rightful owners or to profit from “consumer confusion” by selling branded merchandise associated with a popular TV show, movie or videogame with which it has no legitimate connection, NBCU alleges in the suit filed on Friday in federal court.
Attempts to reach JKM and its Tennessee-based owner, Kenneth Talbert, were not immediately successful.
The suit contends that JKM is a “trademark squatter” which has registered more than 20 marks derived from such properties as the films “Alien” and “Terminator 2,” and TV’s “Friday Night Lights” and “Gravity Falls.”
About six years ago, the defendants registered the Dunder Mifflin name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in order to market such apparel as hoodies, shirts and jackets, the lawsuit says.
When NBCU sought to register the marks two years ago, its application was rejected by the trademark office, according to the plaintiffs. The entertainment company is appealing the decision.
Universal City-based NBCU has long marketed a line of Dunder Mifflin- related products, including coffee mugs, hats, Sharpies, self-stick notes, and other items, the suit says.
The lawsuit seeks to have a federal judge put a stop to JKM’s use of the Dunder Mifflin name, the destruction of JKM’s stock of such products, unspecified damages, and all profits derived from JKM’s sales of “Office”- related merchandise.
The U.S. version of “The Office,” starring Steve Carell, aired from 2005 to 2013 and portrayed the everyday work lives of employees in the Scranton, Pennsylvania, branch of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
Last year, NBCU began streaming episodes of the show on its Peacock platform.