The man we refer to as Minnesota’s Angry Humorist is the owner of a valuable piece of intellectual property: the service mark and trademark PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, under five registration numbers. It is a mark that I first remember hearing on the Angry Humorist’s local morning show on Minnesota Public Radio in the mid-1970’s, back when he was less angry and more funny. The mark has since come to represent a valuable franchise.
Next year “A Prairie Home Companion” goes Hollywood in a feature film directed by Robert Altman. The film stars Woody Harrelson as Lefty, Tommy Lee Jones as Axeman, Kevin Kline as Guy Noir, Meryl Streep as Yolanda Johnson and Minnesota’s Angry Humorist as Himself. Minnesota’s Angry Humorist has become a multimedia Goliath.
The proprietors of MNspeak.com, on the other hand, appear to be your classic Davids. They have developed a series of Minnesota-themed t-shirts to make ends meet. If you are familiar with the Twin Cities, the t-shirts can actually draw a laugh. My favorite is “Lake Street is for lovers,” but “A Prairie Ho Companion” isn’t bad as a potshot at the Goliath who has become a royal noodge.
Today Rex tells the story of the “Trial of the century: Keillor v. MNspeak.com.” Rex writes:
On a Tuesday night two weeks ago, the letter showed up in the mail. It is included below, so you can see for yourself the kind of verbal mastery it takes to make a legal document sound like Keillor’s forlorn nostalgic prose.
Let’s quickly review the situation: Garrison Keillor — a liberal comedian! — is threatening to sue MNspeak — some blog! — that uses a t-shirt to poke fun of his mega-gigantic media empire. You’d think we shot Guy Noir or something.
Man, this guy is getting old.
Minnesota’s Angry Humorist professes concern that, given the public’s awarenenss of his mark and his rights in the mark, the t-shirt may create a misleading and false inference” of his endorsement, approval or sponsorship of it. He has issued a demand that MNspeak.com cease and desist from sale of the “Prairie Ho Companion” t-shirts. He threatens that sale of the t-shirt may give rise to claims of false advertising and deceptive trade practices.
Long story short: If you know a good intellectual property lawyer willing to work for a few t-shirts that may become collector’s items, contact [email protected] (Thanks to Jared Doty.)
JOHN adds: I can’t believe you didn’t mention that Lindsay Lohan is in the movie, too! The Angry Humorist may not be funny, but he truly has reached the pinnacle of show business.