COUSTEAU SOCIETY FILES TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT SUIT AGAINST COUSTEAU’S GRANDDAUGHTER
Steven T. Lowe
On September 14, 2018, the Cousteau Society filed a suit in New York federal court against Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, Celine Cousteau (“Celine”), over the use of Cousteau’s name and signature red cap to promote her 10-part television series that will be broadcasted in early 2019 on the Science Channel.
The Cousteau Society is also accusing Celine of infringing the society’s trademarks by using her name and famous grandfather to promote her upcoming documentary, “Celine Cousteau, The Adventure Continues,” which will be aired on the French television network, France 3.
There have been multiple disputes over Jacques’ intellectual property over the years between the two sides of his family, including over his ship Calypso- on which he sailed the world. However, The Cousteau Society owns the intellectual property associated with Jacque Cousteau, and is run by Francine Cousteau, Jacques’ longtime mistress-turned-second-wife, and the two children he had with Francine. Celine Cousteau is the daughter of Jacques’ oldest son from his first marriage.
The suit claims that Celine’s documentary’s name, “The Adventure Continues,” is a spin-off from Cousteau’s former program titled “The Journey Continues,” and a press kit for the program includes a copyrighted image of Jacques in his red cap as a background image for one of the pages.
In 2004, Disney was ordered to pay the Cousteau Society a six-figure settlement after Wes Anderson dressed Bill Murray in a similar hat in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. The Cousteau Society has been known to be very protective over their trademarks. Nevertheless, in 2016, they allowed Parkes + Macdonald and Image Nation Abu Dhabi to acquire exclusive rights to develop a film and/or television series based on the iconic French explorer.
The suit includes claims under both federal and state trademark laws, seeks a permanent injunction, and any profits derived from the use of the marks.
The case is Cousteau Society Inc. v. Cousteau et al., case number 1:18-cv-08341, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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