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View Full Version : Judge rules against Sharapova in documentary suit


Aaron.
Aug 3rd, 2006, 04:05 AM
A federal judge ruled against tennis star Maria Sharapova on Wednesday, saying a Florida production company was entitled to market a documentary on her despite her agents' attempts to halt distribution.

U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks said Byzantium Productions Inc. was lawful in its production of two films, "Anna's Army" and "Russian Women's Tennis." The documentaries did not violate trademark laws, the judge found.


Jonathan Koch, a Tampa attorney representing Sharapova, said he initially believed there was potential for confusion among consumers that the films were official documentaries. As the litigation progressed, though, he said he changed his mind.

"As we investigated and as the controversy developed we concluded that the commercial significance of the matter did not justify being involved in a lawsuit," Koch said.

The decision means Byzantium, a two-man operation in West Palm Beach, can move forward with plans to distribute its work in Japan and elsewhere, though the filmmakers said the damage had already been done.

"We're thrilled to have this all over with. It's been a long battle -- they destroyed our business," said Peter Geisler, the company's vice president. "This should allow distribution to continue, but my guess is that it's most likely too late."

In addition to footage of Sharapova, the films include interviews with Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and others.

IMG, the agency that represents Sharapova and her company, SW19 Inc., had said Byzantium illegally used the tennis player's identity and infringed on her company's trademark and legal rights, among other claims. The agency threatened legal action.

Martin Reeder, a Jupiter, Fla.-based attorney for Byzantium, said those threats kept the film from further distribution.

"It's still sitting in warehouses," he said.

Sharapova was the first Russian to win the Wimbledon title. She was born in Russia but now lives in Florida.

Rocketta
Aug 3rd, 2006, 05:28 AM
hmm, I'm sure it sucks to be sued and then have the people go "opps, my bad" but what can you do big corporations have no conscious. :shrug:

I'm sure it will get out. :shrug:

Albireo
Aug 3rd, 2006, 05:43 AM
IMG, the agency that represents Sharapova and her company, SW19 Inc.[...]

:spit:

goldenlox
Aug 3rd, 2006, 03:22 PM
Of course they ruled against Sharapova.
Her and Eisenbud should be sued for harrassment

Carmen Mairena
Aug 3rd, 2006, 03:37 PM
:woohoo:

*JR*
Aug 3rd, 2006, 03:59 PM
Of course they ruled against Sharapova.
Her and Eisenbud should be sued for harrassment
No, the filmmakers should be indicted as Anna's pimps. :p

Dan23
Aug 3rd, 2006, 04:09 PM
In the end IMG basically got what they wanted anyhow.
I'd be interested to know if Maria actually personally had a problem with it.

goldenlox
Aug 3rd, 2006, 04:17 PM
What did IMG want? To prove they are idiots?
Mission accomplished

*JR*
Aug 3rd, 2006, 04:23 PM
What did IMG want? To prove they are idiots?
Mission accomplished
They sent Anna to Bollettieri's on a full scholarship, and she later deserted them for archrival Octagon. Given that, I'd have looked to fuck with her commercial interests, too). :ras:

roarke
Aug 3rd, 2006, 05:45 PM
A federal judge ruled against tennis star Maria Sharapova on Wednesday, saying a Florida production company was entitled to market a documentary on her despite her agents' attempts to halt distribution.

U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks said Byzantium Productions Inc. was lawful in its production of two films, "Anna's Army" and "Russian Women's Tennis." The documentaries did not violate trademark laws, the judge found.


Jonathan Koch, a Tampa attorney representing Sharapova, said he initially believed there was potential for confusion among consumers that the films were official documentaries. As the litigation progressed, though, he said he changed his mind.

"As we investigated and as the controversy developed we concluded that the commercial significance of the matter did not justify being involved in a lawsuit," Koch said.

The decision means Byzantium, a two-man operation in West Palm Beach, can move forward with plans to distribute its work in Japan and elsewhere, though the filmmakers said the damage had already been done.

"We're thrilled to have this all over with. It's been a long battle -- they destroyed our business," said Peter Geisler, the company's vice president. "This should allow distribution to continue, but my guess is that it's most likely too late."

In addition to footage of Sharapova, the films include interviews with Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and others.

IMG, the agency that represents Sharapova and her company, SW19 Inc., had said Byzantium illegally used the tennis player's identity and infringed on her company's trademark and legal rights, among other claims. The agency threatened legal action.

Martin Reeder, a Jupiter, Fla.-based attorney for Byzantium, said those threats kept the film from further distribution.

"It's still sitting in warehouses," he said.

Sharapova was the first Russian to win the Wimbledon title. She was born in Russia but now lives in Florida.


Can she be sued for the loss of business if they feel that grave damage has been done... as they have indicated here?