What do you do when someone steals your name?

Originally posted on MYSPACE: Saturday, August 16, 2008

What do you do when someone steals your name?

FreakShow Deluxe, the trademark of FreakShow Deluxe, LLC – a California Company – has been doing pretty well…

Originally founded in 2001, the troupe has undergone a lot: cast changes, relocating across country, more cast changes, bigger venues, national tours, documentaries and DVDs, expanding its offerings, working with bands, corporate gigs, tv appearances, getting an agent, being optioned for its own tv show, becoming something of a booking agent for its growing list of dedicated troupe members, and most recently premiering a brand new full-length musical!

*whew*

FreakShow Deluxe LLC is a production company & working theatrical troupe – with a long list of productions under its belt, a website, legal representation, trademarks, contracts, business accounts, insurance, merchandise, an accountant and a large number of upcoming shows & projects in a variety of medias – and we’re happy about it! However, we are NOT HAPPY about people trying to ride our coattails.

TWICE in the past year, we have faced other people trying to make their own fame using our name. The name of FreakShow Deluxe. The TRADEMARKED name of FreakShow Deluxe. Both times, we have called them on it —

The first time this happened it was in another state, immediately following our national tour – our initial request for this group to stop using the name was met with outright hostility – especially after a letter to the club where their show was letting its owner know about the trademark violation – but a cease & desist letter from our lawyer seems to have put a stop to any further problems.

This second time is a different group, a local one – our initial myspace message regarding the violation received an inappropriate response, and the follow-up received no reply at all – so being unable to find a contact name, number or address for this group (not even a real email), we had to send an email and letter to the club making them aware of the violation. So far no response… so now that means more legal fees to take legal action.

The disturbing thing with this second ‘group’ is that we have been approached by another company, and some individuals, who assert that this ‘group’ set out to make a play off of our name on purpose. Seriously?! Come on, now… What’s more, this ‘group’ calls itself something it is not , which muddies the water for everyone – especially a legitimate COMPANY like FreakShow Deluxe LLC, forcing us into legal action to protect what is ours!

We are trying not to be too upset, or take it personally – especially with performers we have worked with before taking part in this new show with the name we find violates our trademark – we respect them and certainly want them to get paid! Business is business, after all… But we want more. We are loyal to our people – and, while this may be out of place in Hollywood – we appreciate loyalty in return.

At the same time – we are flattered that we are well enough thought of to have other people trying to rip us off! Rest assured, when the dust clears and the rubble is cast away – you will find your FreakShow Deluxe standing strong and tall!

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3 Responses to “What do you do when someone steals your name?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It’s both sad and ironic that you fail to mention that the group you ordered to cease and desist was using the FSD name legally, since it was half of the original founding group – The Wolf. There had been a verbal contract that the original troupe members in Dayton would continue to use the name “FreakShow Deluxe”, which was later violated by Mr. Gunn. But you know how it is, money talks and bullshit walks. Gunn trademarked the name in CA without any notice to the troupe in OH and then took a giant shit on them without provocation. Not a good way to do business.

    • Never once did FSD ask the The Wolf or anyone to stop performing, or try to keep them from doing a show – it was merely asking they stop using the exact name “FreakShow Deluxe” (or the extremely similar derivative, as with the SoCal promoter). The c&d letters were sent only after repeated attempts to rectify the situation directly. Let me also point out that the name & logo were NOT trademarked “without any notice,” and there was no “giant shit on them.”

      But you are right, “money talks and bullshit walks.” After all, I am the one who went spent the money to form the LLC, get the insurance, create the logos, start the website, have merchandise made, promote the show, take care of the bookings, get legal representation, find an accountant, trademark & copyright and so much, much more. The things that needed to be done that no one else would do. That IS a good way to do business.

      I hope this helps clarify things for you. All the best –
      REVEREND (that’s right – not “Mr.” – don’t think I don’t know about the attempts to discredit the title I earned all the way back in 1992) TOMMY GUNN

  2. Hi – this is your Reverend Tommy Gunn! Let’s talk about what Anonymous Says:

    When the moderator first contacted me about the above comment – he wanted to delete it as a crank. But after I read it (and knowing exactly who it is from), I feel it brings up some valid points which should be addressed. What Anonymous says has some truth, but let me defend my actions.

    Yes, it is true that the group in Ohio referred to in my original post (which was originally posted on MySpace back in 2008), was with the other original FSD founder, The Wolf. And yes, there was a verbal contract between The Wolf and I about the name. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of miscommunications and misunderstandings when things went awry.

    The verbal agreement originally made with the Wolf in 2004 was not really working well. Without getting too far into it, the initial split had some significant problems, so the Wolf and I were not talking as we had been. Tremendous growth on the part of the Hollywood show furthered the strain. Meanwhile, the Wolf’s show was having some problems of its own and, unfortunately, it became necessary for me to distance my show from his.

    This created even more friction between us – and my subsequent offers to him, including compensating him to stop using the name were rejected. In fact, nearly every attempt to try and work things out seemed to end badly — so much so the Wolf and I were no longer communicating at all. But I still had to move forward with what was right for the company.

    Ownership of the name became a key issue. We were trying to get some big deals going when a couple production companies I had been associated with when FSD was created were suddenly stepping forward trying to say THEY had ownership of the name FreakShow Deluxe (which they absolutely did not).

    I guess the idea there might actually be money in it got everyone greedy.

    At this point, definitive ownership had already been established – but now that ownership needed to be defended. So I did. I do not think everyone understood all the details with what was going on then – not even me.

    Luckily, FSD has a top-notch entertainment law firm representing it who was consulted with heavily before any actions, including cease & desist letters, were taken. Everything was done to both the letter & spirit of the law. FreakShow Deluxe was something I wanted to fight for, so I did. And I will continue to do so!

    In retrospect – was fighting for the name the necessary thing? Absolutely. Could it have been gone about in a better fashion with the Wolf? Undoubtably. If only the Wolf and I had talked more, and if I would have been more open about what was going on – maybe the whole situation could have been avoided. Perhaps then it would not have appeared to the Wolf and his group that I was acting without provocation.

    This issue created a huge rift with the Wolf, who I have always considered my friend. Sadly, that rift that has still not been repaired. Thankfully, at least bridges have been built. The offer to the Wolf and his company members to perform with the current incarnation of FreakShow Deluxe remains open and will hopefully taken up on. We have all been talking as we try to put together the book to celebrate the 10th anniversary of FreakShow Deluxe to make sure everyone is incorporated in it.

    I have learned from the experience. FreakShow Deluxe is a better company because of it. It is too bad people got their feelings hurt and misunderstandings happened – but hopefully all that can be taken care of in time.

    Lastly – always remember there are at least two (if not more) sides to every story. I have given my viewpoint on what happened, and I hope it is sufficient for you. It’s not a perfect world and I am not perfect either. But we do the best we can, and then we move forward.

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