"Jersey Shore’s” Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino Loses Trademark Battle with Abercrombie

No, his lawyer was not “My Cousin Vinny”.  Back in November 2011, “Jersey Shore’s” Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino took a break from his gym, tan and laundry routine to file a lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch (“Abercrombie”) for trademark infringement.  “The Situation” claims ownership to the trademark for the term “The Situation” and Sorrentino wasn’t too pleased when Abercrombie started distributing merchandise with the term, “The Fituation” on it.  On June 28, 2013, a federal judge threw out Sorrentino’s lawsuit leaving the “Jersey Shore” star all washed out.
The case had its beginnings at the height of the “Jersey Shore” days.  In February 2010, Abercrombie started selling a t-shirt which touted the phrase “The Fitchuation.” Later on, in August 2011, Abercrombie released a statement offering to pay Sorrentino to stop wearing its clothing on “Jersey Shore”, in an effort to prevent viewers from creating any association between the clothing company and the cast member.  This did not sit well with Sorrentino.
Thereafter, Sorrentino filed a lawsuit against Abercrombie alleging claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, injury to business reputation and misappropriation of likeness and sought $4 million in damages.  ($4 million in damages would have bought The Situation a lot of self-tanning products.) But unfortunately for The Situation, on June 28, 2013, a federal judge granted summary judgment in favor of Abercrombie and decided against Sorrentino on all claims.
Most notably, the judge found that Sorrentino did not possess the requisite trademark rights in his famous nickname as he did not have a valid trademark registration and failed to establish common law rights until after Abercrombie first began selling the t-shirt at issue. Furthermore, the judge found that “The Fitchuation” t-shirt was a parody, and thus was permissible under trademark law. Moreover, Abercrombie even used its own brand name in the parody. As such, customers would not be confused into believing the t-shirt originated with Sorrentino.  In addition, the judge rejected Sorrentino’s argument that the press release constituted an advertisement in violation of his publicity rights citing a disclaimer by Abercrombie and stating that the “press release explicitly attempted to disassociate the plaintiff’s name from the brand.”
The Situation will have to move on from this loss but I am sure he will be up to bigger and better things in the future.