Netflix is being forced to entertain discussions with the notorious drug cartel family. It is currently party to an on-going legal battle, led the brother of Pablo Escobar, whose life was dramatized for Netflix’s most popular TV series ‘Narcos.’ ‘Escobar Inc’ – an investment holding company, has put forward a claim for trade mark infringement.
Alongside this, Carlos Munoz Portal – a scout for the production company was shot dead in Mexico whilst locating places to film the next season. Whilst many speculate a connection with the dispute, no evidence has been found to suggest one exists. Yet, Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria (the brother of Pablo) has made no effort to disparage assumptions – he has in fact encouraged them. In an interview he stated:
“I don’t want Netflix or any other film production company to film any movies in Medellin or Colombia that relates to me or my brother Pablo without authorization from Escobar Inc. It is very dangerous. Especially without our blessing.”
He has requested a settlement of $1 billion.
Saddened by the potential end to Narcos, I wondered about the legitimacy of these claims. Threats of violence aside, would requests of compensation and the right to be asked permission be considered reasonable in a court of law? The question came down to – Is there a registered trade mark?
The answer was yes. Over the last year or so Escobar Inc has made applications to register many – ‘ESCOBAR’ and ’NARCOS’ included. Filing these with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trade Mark Office), has given Escobar’s family the opportunity to argue for a legitimate pay out; and / or power to end the much loved show. Netflix has disputed the trade marks with a cease and desist letter – however, with the added fear of death, the likely outcome of discussions remains uncertain.
Why did Escobar’s family choose trade mark infringement? From a UK law perspective –
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