Does the ‘Pussycat’ Battle Have Legal Claws?

Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES — The battle over “Pussycat” has just begun.

Sexy burlesque troupe Pussycat Dolls has been served with papers by the trademark owner of the now-defunct adult Pussycat Theatre chain to stop using “Pussycat” in its name after choregrapher Robin Antin filed papers with government regulators to trademark the group’s name.

The Pussycat Theater chain had adult theaters from coast to coast in the late 1960s through the early 1980s. It was owned by Vincent Miranda, who opened the first Pussycat in 1961. During the years, Miranda was arrested more than 60 times on obscenity charges but was convicted only once.

Miranda became notorious after he debuted the landmark adult film “Deep Throat.” But in the 1980s the VCR and Betamax entered the scene, and most porn purveyors decided that home was a better place to get watch blue-screen gems. Miranda died in 1985.

The Pussycat Dolls entered the Hollywood scene after debuting at West Hollywood, Calif.’s Viper Room in 1993. The burlesque troupe, whose members have included Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra, progressed to the big screen in “Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle” and have appeared on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show.

Now the owner of Pussycat Theatres’ trademark, Johnathan T. Cota, claims Antin’s Pussycat Dolls infringes on his trademark name and image consisting of a girl on a bikini with cat mark.

While the trademark has been deemed “abandoned” by the Patent Office, Cota still claims he owns it. Attorney Alonzo Wickers, an entertainment lawyer at the Los Angeles office of Davis Wright Tremaine, says even if the trademark is abandoned Cota may still have a case.

According to papers filed with the Patent Office, Antin — sister of Hollywood’s Steve, Jonathan and Neil Antin — plans on ramping up the Pussycat Dolls trademark even further, beyond the troupe’s performances.

Antin’s application also mentions a possible cosmetics and fragrance line, as well as clothing, trading cards and even a cocktail lounge and casino.