The owners of the copyright to the “Mission: Impossible” theme filed suit on Tuesday against the makers of the Sonic Groom shaver, alleging the company used the theme in its advertising without permission.
The offending ad depicts a “secret mission” in which a man uses the Sonic Groom shaver to change his appearance and make a getaway. The ad is clearly intended to recall the ‘Mission: Impossible” series, using the phrases “Your mission, should you decide to accept it,” and “This message will self-destruct in five seconds.” The “Mission: Impossible” theme music — or something that sounds strikingly similar to it — plays throughout the ad.
The copyright is held by Famous Music LLC, a division of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. On Tuesday, Famous Music filed a federal copyright suit in New York against IdeaVillage Products Corp., the makers of the Sonic Groom shaver.
In the suit, the publishing company alleges that IdeaVillage launched the ad in 2015 to take advantage of the popularity of Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” the film starring Tom Cruise that was also released that year. The commercial ran on cable networks such as ESPN and is still available online. IdeaVillage — which bills itself as a leader in the “as seen on TV” industry — did not pay a licensing fee to Famous Music or to Paramount, the suit alleges.
Famous Music says that it only licenses the theme on rare occasions, and then for substantial fees.
“Defendant is a sophisticated products and direct marketing company that advertises on a regular basis, and certainly knows that it cannot simply arrogate valuable intellectual property for use in its commercial advertisements without obtaining such a license and paying such a fee, and yet it has attempted to do just that,” the suit states.
After being contacted in early 2016, IdeaVillage agreed to stop running the commercial, the suit states. However, the commercial continued to air.
IdeaVillage did not immediately return a call seeking comment.