A horse-racing announcer has sued the Weinstein Co., claiming that the company infringed on his trademarked phrase in a 2014 Bill Murray movie.
Dave Johnson is the man behind “And down the stretch they come!,” which he began using while calling races in Illinois in the 1960s. The phrase took off when Johnson moved to Santa Anita Park in the 1970s, and he has used it on many Triple Crown broadcasts on ABC.
Over the years, other announcers have borrowed the phrase and it was a favorite utterance of David Letterman. Johnson registered a trademark for his signature phrase in 2012. In 2015, Johnson told the New York Times that he was inspired by boxing announcer Michael Buffer, who earns a sizable revenue stream through his trademarked phrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble.”
In the federal lawsuit filed in New York, Johnson takes issue with Murray’s use of it in the film “St. Vincent.” In the movie, Murray plays a “retired grumpy alcoholic who gambles regularly on horse racing,” the suit states.
The suit alleges that by putting his words in the mouth of an “unsavory character,” the film “infringes, damages, blurs, tarnishes, and dilutes the mark and the rights and reputation of the
mark’s creator and owner, Dave Johnson — an esteemed and accomplished gentleman who is a universally respected legend in sports broadcasting and entertainment.”
The Weinstein Co. produced the film, along with Chernin Entertainment. The Weinstein Co. declared bankruptcy last year, following the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal.
Lantern Entertainment, which acquired the Weinstein Co. library in a bankruptcy sale, is also named as a defendant in the case. Lantern did not comment on the suit.
In the 1990s, Buffer sued Sony over use of his trademarked phrase in the film “Booty Call.” The suit was settled out of court.