MTV’s Real World/Road Rules star Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio has lost the lawsuit against HBO, over the rights to the nick-name “Johnny Bananas.” Devenanzio alleged that HBO’s “Entourage” used his nick-name when referring to the fake cartoon gorilla played by Kevin Dillon’s character.
The New York judge overseeing the suit dismissed the case. Apparently, Devenanzio didn’t file the “Johnny Bananas” lawsuit until 14 months after the first air date of the episode – in New York, the statute of limitations (the time frame in which a lawsuit for Devenanzio’s claims can be brought) is only 1 year.
Some news sources are calling Devenanzio a crybaby for suing over this, but owners of trademarks, copyrights, and other brand-names often must sue to protect their intellectual property rights.
In the intellectual property legal world, failing to enforce rights that you believe are yours can lead to “dilution,” meaning that your mark or brand becomes so diluted or commonplace that the rights become lost. Some good examples are Band-Aid or Kleenex. Someone needing a finger bandage or tissue paper would likely say “Give me a band-aid,” or “Give me a kleenex.” But these product names are actually brand names – “Band-Aid brand bandages” and “Kleenex brand tissue paper.” But because the brand names have been used as substitutes for the product names for so long, it is difficult to separate the two – leading to a loss of the ability to enforce the intellectual property rights associated with “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex.”
If Devenanzio really intends to secure for himself the intellectual property rights to “Johnny Bananas,” then he needs to focus on strengthening that brand, filing the necessary trademark applications, and confirming that he is the rightful owner of the “Johnny Bananas” brand — before he sues anybody else again.