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What’s with Biebs and these lawsuits? Last year, a deranged woman took him to court, claiming she was his baby-moma. Now, the teenage celeb is being sued over claims that he must share his likeness with an iPhone beaver.
In a case filed in Florida federal court, the maker of a “Joustin Beaver” app wants the court to declare it has the free speech right to sell its beaver game in the iPhone store.
The game in question sells for 99 cents on iTunes and features a mop-topped beaver who navigates river obstacles. The critter in question has a similar name and vague physical likeness to the “Baby, Baby” singer:
Last week, reports surfaced that Justin Bieber’s managers were threatening to sue the app makers for using his likeness without permission. App maker RC3 appears to have sued first in an attempt to get the court to declare that its free speech rights trump Bieber’s trademark rights. Here are some excerpts from the suit:
The beaver knocks “Phot-Hogs” that are attempting to take his photograph into the river with his lance. The beaver also signs “Otter-Graphs.” The beaver must also dodge the “whirlpool of success” which will lead beaver out of control
…multiple conversations took place during February of 2012. [RC3] attempted to explain .. that the App was protected under the FIrst Amendment of the Constitution of the United States
Ordinarily, celebrities and famous brands can exercise strong control over how their names are used. But there is an exception in the case of an obvious parody where there is no risk that consumers will be confused. Facebook, for instance, sued a site called Lamebook but then quietly settled the case after Lamebook argued free speech.
These type of questions give rise to questions of whether the defendants are clever parody artists or simply people looking to make a quick buck when a celebrity conflict gives them a wave of publicity.
Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) doesn’t say how times a given app has been downloaded, but the iPhone version “Joustin Beaver” had been rated 86 times as of Monday. The app is also available on the iPad.
As for Justin Bieber’s other legal troubles, those appear to have been cleared up after the troubled 20-year-old who claimed to have taken his virginity had her paternity suit thrown out of court.