Hype Creative sues Sundance Partners

Firm seeks at least $1.5 million over contract dispute

A P.R, and marketing firm has filed suit against Sundance Partners, claiming that it improperly cancelled a contract for use of a prized Sundance Film Festival venue because it used the image of Robert Redford in promotional materials.

The firm, Hype Creative, seeking at least $1.5 million, said that it had been well-regarded for its promotional expertise, including helping to get Bill Gates to the festival in 2011, but that the cancellation of a contract it had with Sundance to use the Zoom restaurant has damaged its repution on the festival circuit. The suit was filed in Salt Lake County district court.

The company claims that it struck a deal in 2011 to use the Zoom restaurant for the 2012 festival, with options for this year and 2014, and that it allowed them to use Redford’s interest in the eatery in its promotional materials, as well as the venue’s status as an official festival venue. The agreement, the suit stated, allowed Hype to use the phrase “Zoom Restaurant, A Sundance Restaurant owned by Robert Redford” in marketing materials. Hype would then market its services to third parties wishing to hold receptions and other events during the festival, using the premiere location and connection to draw interest.

But Hype said that later in 2011, Sundance Partners terminated the agreement, claiming that it violated a provision barring either party from using the “names, trademarks, service marks, logos or other proprietary designations in promotion, marketing or advertising” without the party’s prior written approval. Sundance, the firm said, claimed that its use of a small image of Redford, placed among two-dozen other celebrity images, as part of a promotional slide deck was a breach of the agreement.

“On information and belief, Sundance Partners does not own Mr. Redford’s rights of publicity or own rights over the specific image used by Hype Creative,” Hype Creative said in its suit. “Sundance Partners has never claimed or suggested that it owned rights in or to Mr. Redford’s image. Use of the image was therefore not a breach, let alone a material breach, of the Agreement.”

Hype claims that Sundance used the Redford image as an excuse to renegotiate the contract with less favorable terms, including restricting it to just the 2012 festival. Hype says that the image of Redford was removed within an hour after it received a complaint from Sundance over the use of the photo.

The firm also said that by the time the contract was severed, it was too late to line up another venue. It estimated that it stood to profit $500,000 for each of the three years it had the use of Zoom.

A spokesman for Sundance did not immediately respond for comment.

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