Did Better Call Saul Infringe Upon Liberty Tax Trademarks?
What does it mean to infringe upon a business’s trademarks?
Better Call Saul is an AMC series about how a down-on-his-luck lawyer goes from “ethically challenged” to downright, well, breaking bad, like Walter White in its titular sister series.
In its six-year run, Better Call Saul has enjoyed ample critical praise and award nominations, garnering the show a lot of attention. One can imagine, however, that those involved would prefer to do without the current attention they are receiving.
The present news splash is due to a lawsuit from Liberty Tax, who asserts that the show infringed upon their trademarks, “sowing confusion and causing harm.”
What exactly is Liberty Tax referring to?
Liberty Tax’s Argument against ‘Sweet Liberty’ Using Their Trademarks
Back in April, Better Call Saul featured a storyline where the main character visited Sweet Liberty Tax Services. In the show, Sweet Liberty is run by some of Saul’s old clients, who are using the office to skim the tax refunds of their customers.
As trademarks go, it is fairly easy to see why Liberty Tax might not be happy about the use of the name “Sweet Liberty Tax Services.” It goes beyond this, however. Besides the business name similarity, Liberty Tax pointed to the fact that Sweet Liberty was shown having a Statue of Liberty decoration. Since Liberty Tax features the Statue of Liberty on their logo, they argue that the similarity was intentional.
But Does ‘Sweet Liberty’ Equal Liberty Tax?
The lawsuit brought against AMC Networks, Inc. and Sony Pictures Television, Inc. is demanding they halt any infringements. It is also asking for punitive and triple damages.
From the above description, it would seem that Liberty Tax might have a strong case. After all, the name is quite similar, and the use of the Statue of Liberty in conjunction with that only bolsters their argument for infringement on their trademarks.
However, if you dig a bit deeper into those scenes, there are clear differences. For one, Sweet Liberty Tax Services is run out of a trailer in the New Mexico desert. Additionally, the Statue of Liberty featured in the show is inflatable, and is only part of a patriotic motif that also includes American flags.
Infringement on Liberty Tax’s Trademarks? Only Time Will Tell
If this case were happening in the world of the show, Saul would likely resolve the situation with some shady dealings and intimidation. The real world likely will not mirror that.
Instead, we will have to sit back, grab our popcorn, and watch the drama play out in court.