One of the ostensible perks of being an Oscar nominee, in addition to all the studio doors that (temporarily) fly open upon receiving the nomination, is the gift bag full of expensive goodies that range from fancy toilet paper to whatever a “vampire breast lift” is. But it seems that the swag bag, the contents of which are valued at $250,000 this year, has yielded nothing but consternation for the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences in recent years, which is why it’s filed a lawsuit over trademark infringement (to say nothing of the numerous counts of unsolicited association with vaping and vibrating).
It seems the Academy discontinued its own gift bags about ten years ago because the recipients didn’t pay the taxes on the gifts, which left the Academy holding the bag, i.e., negotiating a settlement with the IRS. So a third party, Distinctive Assets, has overseen their collection and distribution in recent years, but has leaned heavily on the unofficial Oscar association, promoting the bags with slogans such as ““Everyone Wins At The Oscars®! Nominee Gift Bags.”
The Academy (and its lawyers) has deemed this unfair representation and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is seeking an injunction to prevent Distinctive Assets from invoking its trademark while peddling its vibrator-laden favors. The organization is concerned that Distinctive Assets’ gift bags will “dilute the distinctiveness of the Academy’s famous trademarks and tarnish their goodwill.”
Now, the Academy didn’t just lose its head overnight—THR notes that this is an ongoing battle, and that Distinctive Assets has been repeatedly warned/asked not to use the Oscars trademark in its promotional campaigns. After one such admonishment in 2015, the marketing company said it would “not purposefully make an association between its gift bags and AMPAS going forward,” but here it is 2016, and the Oscars trademark is still being invoked in Distinctive Assets’ social media posts. The lawsuit could potentially end the gift-bag practice entirely, or just result in the creation of a euphemism similar to “The Big Game” label that’s bandied about by advertisers for the Super Bowl.