The marketing firm responsible for distributing luxury gift bags to Oscar nominees, which this year included an all-expenses paid trip to Israel worth $55,000, is being sued by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for trademark infringement.
The complaint against Distinctive Assets, a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in product promotion through celebrity placement, asserts the firm intentionally tried to establish a connection to the Oscars and profit from the Academy’s trademarks without permission.
“Distinctive Assets’ continued use of the Academy’s trademarks not only infringes the Academy’s trademarks, but it is also likely to dilute the distinctiveness of the Academy’s famous trademarks and tarnish their goodwill,” the lawsuit reads.
The film organization said it previously clashed with the company over the distribution of the unofficial gift bags, and sought to resolve the situation.
“Last year, the Academy attempted to address Distinctive Assets’ false and infringing representation without litigation. We had no choice but to file a lawsuit,” an Academy spokesperson said this week, according to Variety magazine.
In addition to the luxury trip to Israel, other gifts in this year’s bag, valued overall at $200,000, include a year’s worth of unlimited Audi rentals from Silvercar (valued at $45,000), a 15-day walking tour of Japan (also worth $45,000), and three private sessions with Jay Cardiello, a “celebrity wellness expert” who stars in the ABC-produced “My diet is better than yours.”
Twenty-six Oscar notables — the five nominees for best director, as well and the four nominees each for best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress, plus Chris Rock, this year’s master of ceremonies at the Academy Awards — will be eligible to receive the free VIP trip for two to Israel, courtesy of the Tourism Ministry and ExploreIsrael.com, owned by an ultra-Orthodox pair of tour operators from Brooklyn. “It was their idea,” said a ministry spokesperson of the Oscar giveaway.
The ministry “embraced” the idea, she told The Times of Israel on February 8, and it is the ministry that will pay for all of the land arrangements for the VIP travelers, including hotels, transportation, guides and activities.
Nominees will also get to try Ultherapy, a laser skin-tightening procedure costing $5,530, receive a lifetime supply of skin creams from Lizora costing $31,200, and try the Fit Club TV’s “Ultimate Fitness Package,” worth $6,250.
Oscar gift bags have been an ongoing issue for the Academy, which stopped giving them to nominees 2007 after the practice came under scrutiny by US tax authorities, a report in Reuters noted.
The 88th Academy Awards ceremony takes place on February 28, and will be hosted by actor and comedian Chris Rock.