Academy Sues Over Oscar Gift Bags That Include Sex Toys, Vaporizers

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For the past decade, the Academy has continually disavowed “Oscar gift bags,” but this year the org is taking it further, suing Distinctive Assets.

On Feb. 16, the Academy went to California federal court and filed against Lash Fary, otherwise known as Distinctive Assets. The marketing company offers products to celebrities as a promotion and has been creating gift bags for several years.

Distinctive Assets is promoting its gifts with slogans such as “Everyone Wins at the Oscars! Nominee Gift Bags.” The company has received a lot of coverage by offering its goodies to Academy Award nominees, and the Academy last year asked for disclaimers that it has no affiliation with these packages.

“Last year, the Academy attempted to address Distinctive Assets’ false and infringing representation without litigation. We had no choice but to file a lawsuit,” an Academy spokesperson said on Friday.

The filing by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, repped by Quinn Emanuel attorneys, are seeking an injunction and trebled profits and damages, after clashing with the company last year.

In this week’s filing, the Academy said, “Distinctive Assets’ continued use of the Academy’s trademarks not only infringes the Academy’s trademarks, but it is also likely to dilute the distinctiveness of the Academy’s famous trademarks and tarnish their goodwill.”

The complaint said that media coverage of the 2016 gift bags has focused on “the less-than-wholesome nature of some of the products contained in the bags,” citing a $5,500 certificate for plastic surgery, a $1,900 “vampire breast lift,” a $250 sex toy and a $250 marijuana vaporizer.

The Academy is already fighting to maintain its image amid the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences entered into long negotiations with the IRS. The Academy agreed to pay taxes on gift bags handed out to presenters and performers. As part of the settlement with the IRS, neither side would discuss the amount paid, or how far back the taxes extended.

At that point, the Academy decided to discontinue the gift bags — and other companies took over.

In 2012, Distinctive Assets offered an Everybody Wins package, touting the gifts as a great consolation prize for anyone who didn’t win an Oscar in the directing or four acting categories.

Last year, Distinctive Assets offered gifts that were more “wholesome,” including a luxury train ride through the Canadian Rockies worth more than $14,500; a “glamping” trip valued at $12,500; a year’s worth of all-Audi A4 car rental from Silvercar valued at $20,000; and a Reset Yourself lifestyle makeover package worth more than $14,200.

However, last year’s package also included a vibrator, vaporizer and $20,000 gift certificate to have Enigma Life founder Olessia Kantor fly out to meet with each nominee “to discuss their 2015 horoscope, analyze dreams and teach them mind control techniques.”

Meanwhile, one of this year’s items, a luxury trip to Israel funded by the government, has come under fire from Artists for Palestine UK, with the organization imploring attendees to “give your bag to a Palestinian refugee.”

Last year, immediately following the Oscar ceremony, a rep at 3D Public Relations and Marketing told Variety that all of the losing nominees in the acting and directing categories (and host Neil Patrick Harris) accepted these bags. That meant 21 bags went out, at an estimated value of more than $2.5 million.

While the bags are great promotion for the companies involved, it’s dubious how many of the offers are redeemed by the stars. When the Academy gave out gift bags, George Clooney was one of the stars who donated the goods to charity. At an auction, his bag brought $45,000.

The Academy spokesperson also said on Wednesday, “Distinctive Assets has been falsely representing that its extravagant ‘gift bags’ [are] redistributed by the Academy, at its direction, or with its endorsement or approval. The Academy has no affiliation with Distinctive Assets. It does not hire Distinctive Assets, consult with it, or help it distribute gift bags. All reports of an ‘official Oscar gift bag,’ or a fight bag distributed at the Oscars containing the products Distinctive Assets promotes, are untrue.”

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  1. I guess I can see it from a brand name point of view

  2. dearladyblog says:

    That’s more lawsuits that we all need right? Not sure why everyone has to sue everyone all the time

  3. Jo says:

    Interesting editing problem you have here: “Meanwhile, one of this year’s items, a luxury trip to Israel funded by that company’s government, has come under fire…” Israel as a company, eh?
    Otherwise, I thought the article informative. Thanks.

  4. we say says:

    Pauly – well, you read the story! Guess you care!

  5. tommariner says:

    #OscarsSoIrrelevant

    A story on gift bags? That’s all ya got? Really? What happened to the best accomplishment in film science.

  6. Pauly says:

    The royal “problems” of America’s elite. No one cares – America hates you Hollywood!

    • cadavra says:

      Yup, that’s why domestic box office last year topped $11 billion for the first time–because America hates Hollywood!

      • cadavra says:

        “The $11 Billion would be less than 50% if not for foreign sales and DVDs.”

        Please locate a dictionary and look up the words “domestic” and “box office.”

      • Demosthenes says:

        The Academy has an “image’ to protect??? What? Shallow, pathetically self absorbing,money, clueless about real life, money, affirmative action instead of reality, money, money, money, money.

        The $11 Billion would be less than 50% if not for foreign sales and DVD’s. Nobody goes and pays full prices in the USA for the garbage now produced.

        It’s been a long time since an epic film of the quality films like Lawrence of Arabia or Dr Zhivago. Today we get a few “stars’ with big mouths and pathetic opinions and a lot of action trash.

        Hollywood “pretending” to live real life. Pathetic.

      • H.M.L. says:

        He should have been more specific…He meant isolated people living in squalid basements hate Hollywood.

  7. Ronnie says:

    I wonder if the swag bag would be acceptable to the stars if a propaganda trip worth $55K was offered to them by the North Korean government? All expenses covered, just come over, enjoy and smile to the cameras…

  8. KarynMcS says:

    This is necessary information on these gift bags. They use the Academy name and association, but are not affiliated with the Academy at all. The public needs to know this information, as these gift bags, and their contents, reflect on the Academy.

    • Jahn says:

      While Pauly may not be interested in the bigger picture, many are concerned that Israel is using the awards and the Academy as a propaganda vehicle to normalize the occupation. Israel is hoping a few celebrities will boost their tourism and make the apartheid less noticeable. These gift bags are forever linked to the Academy with the potential to harm the Academies reputation, glad they’re suing them.

    • Pauly says:

      The public does not give a rip about this!

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