Car manufacturers and dealerships love federal holidays. Toyota and Presidents Day is no exception. The Japanese motor corporation aired the following television spot promoting their holiday sales event back in February 2011.
Do those dead president heads on the dancing tuxedo bodies against an old timey theater backdrop look familiar? Aaron Simpson at Cold Hard Flash certainly thinks so. So do the lawyers of a 12-year-old digital entertainment studio famous for putting goofy looking visages of famous individuals on top of uncharacteristically coordinated physiques.
JibJab saw the above advertisement and found it to be uncomfortably familiar. In March, the company’s legal counsel issued an official complaint for damages to the California District Courts. The complaint claims:
- Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “…intentionally, knowingly and wilfully copied the JibJab Works in order to personally benefit from the widespread customer recognition and acceptance of said works and to capitalize upon the market created by these works.”
- Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. made “unauthorized use of the JibJab Logo in interstate commerce and advertising…”
- Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.’s “use of the JibJab Logo in its commercials is likely to confuse, mislead, or deceive consumers, the public, and trade as to the origin, source, sponsorship, or affiliation of said products, and is intended, and is likely to cause such parties to believe in error that [Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.]’s products have been authorized, sponsored, approved, endorsed or licensed by JibJab…”
- Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “intended to capitalize on [JiBJab]’s goodwill associated therewith for [its] own pecuniary gain.”
Toyota argued before a judge for the case to be dismissed, but has so far been denied the dismissal by the California federal courts. Twice!
San Francisco-based advertising shop Hoffman/Lewis created the TV spot. As Simpson says, they “simply shoulda known better.”
If you think JibJab’s been wronged, you can show your support by checking out their latest Member Exclusive Sendable featuring your friends’ mugs on official Chippendales dancers.