TMZ: 'Three Stooges' Legal Battle Heating Up

Bob Johnson

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. —  The legal battle over “The Three Stooges” trademark brand is heating up as producers of the mainstream film try to stop the porn parody before it hits the street later this month.

Producer and director Will Ryder recently received a cease and desist letter from Robert N. Benjamin, executive vice president and general counsel of C3 Entertainment, producers of for the current mainstream movie, “The Three Stooges.”

Benjaim claimed that Ryder was infringing on the brand’s rights by producing “Not The Three Stooges XXX.”

Ryder’s attorney Michael W. Fattorosi, however fired back saying that the brand was protected under the First Amendment.

But TMZ reported today that Benjamin responded to Fattorosi saying that Ryder's film is not protected as a parody.

Benjamin’s letter of April 5 stated, “Your claim on behalf of your client, Will Ryder Productions, that the low budget, clearly pornographic, film your client intends to sell by infringing upon the Three Stooges Brand is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution s a ‘parody’. Such a claim of parody has no merit.”

It went on to say that Ryder isn’t the first to try to use the First Amendment as “an excuse to wrongfully capitalize on The Three Stooges Brand,” citing prior cases and threatening to seek damages.

But Fattorosi shot back with his own letter that, according to TMZ, said the only way Benjamin could stop the movie is with a proper trademark. The lawyer maintained that the only Three Stooges trademark Benjamin owns is for Three Stooges bottled beer.

In his response, Fattorosi went on to school Benjamin on the fact that a parody is protected as free speech.

The mainstream "The Three Stooges" movie was released on April 13.

Ryder's movie is slated for release later this month through Pulse Distribution.