MGM filed a trademark suit on Tuesday accusing a Nevada man of infringing on the United Artists brand.
The suit alleges that James Schramm launched United Artist Studios and the United Artist Film Festival — both without the “s” — in an attempt to profit off the historic studio’s name.
The litigation comes the same day that MGM announced it would apply the United Artists name to its joint venture distribution deal with Annapurna Pictures, which will now be called United Artists Releasing. MGM has long owned UA, which is marking its 100-year anniversary on Tuesday.
In an interview, Schramm said the company is “completely out of line.”
“The spelling is different,” he said. “It’s nowhere near any infringements.”
Schramm described United Artist Studios as a “multimedia entertainment conglomerate.” He said it does not do production or distribution, and therefore does not overlap with the United Artists’ trademark.
MGM’s attorneys sent Schramm a cease and desist letter in September, in which they threatened to sue if he did not stop using the United Artist name. In response, Schramm sent two expletive-filled letters refusing to comply.
“Who the f— do you think you are attempting to challenge my constitutional rights,” he wrote in one letter.
In a second letter, he called the chairman of MGM’s law firm an “a–hole” for failing to call him back.
“You are threatening me and you are harassing me,” he wrote. “The legal terms that I used are accurate. You don’t need to correct me, you’re not my mother or my schoolteacher… I don’t give a f— about your opinion. How I feel is how I feel. What I believe is what I believe and you have no right to tell me what I’m supposed to feel and what I’m supposed to believe. And don’t you ever try to f—ing intimidate and threaten me again! Do you f—ing understand me?”
He concluded, “So to sum this all up, my response to your letter is go f— yourself.”
Asked about that in the interview, Schramm said, “I’m an old-fashioned, old-school, handshake guy. They’re trying to bully me and I will not be bullied.”
The United Artist Film Festival has a website, in which it states that it is backed by “major executives and companies that facilitate major studio releases.” The site charges filmmakers an entry fee, ranging from $50 to $200, and states that an awards event would be held on Dec. 14, 2018. The site states that the event would be streamed online, but that participants could pay extra for tickets.
In the interview, Schramm said he would be posting the winners online next week.
“It’s an online film festival,” he said. “You don’t have to buy a ticket.”