CBS, Kelley, Fox in same name fight

Group to fight MJM suit, calls it 'ludicrous' and 'meritless'

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., CBS and Kelley Prods. have launched a preemptive strike against a New Hampshire company that claims David Kelley’s upcoming television series “The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire” violates its trademarks and copyrights.

According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday, MJM Prods. and Michael J. Macleod notified Kelley Prods. in April that it was a talent agency located in Manchester, N.H., and that it was the producer of a film titled “Brotherhood” about a group of five college-age friends returning to New Hampshire. According to the suit, MJM’s Web site states that the film was written by a 19-year old film student, who also co-stars.

In a statement, the three plaintiffs said, “We believe that MJM’s claim that it has any monopoly on the use of the word ‘brotherhood’ in film or television series titles is ludicrous and is unsupported by the law or the facts in this situation.  Given MJM’s meritless demands for compensation and threats to ask a court to enjoin the use of our title, we have filed this complaint to protect our ability to move forward unhindered in the production, promotion and broadcast of David E. Kelley’s eagerly anticipated new series, ‘The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire.’ ”

MJM had not returned a call seeking comment late Wednesday.

Kelley’s film, according to the complaint, celebrates small-town life and follows three brothers as they face challenges in their lives in the fictional town of Poland, N.H.

In a series of letters, MJM claims that Kelley Prods. and Fox are liable for copyright infringement based on the alleged similarity of the two works and for trademark infringement because of the use of the word “Brotherhood” in the titles.

While threatening letters do not ordinarily prompt a lawsuit, in the era of Spike TV, Fox and Kelley apparently had heightened concerns that MJM might seek to enjoin the series.

Suit seeks a declaratory judgment that “The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire” does not violate copyright laws, trademarks laws or state unfair competition or misappropriation laws.