MGM , the film company that owns the rights to ROCKY sent a cease and desist letter to Philadelphia resident, Rebecca Shaefer who planned to launch a “Rocky 50K Fat-Ass Run” inspired by Rocky’s iconic jogging route through the streets of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Magazine columnist Dan McQuade‘s figured out that the boxer ran 30.61 miles by analyzing running montages in the films. MGM, which owns rights to the film objected on trademark grounds because they sponsor a Rocky themed 5k/10k run to take place in the city of Philadelphia in November. The “Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run” sparked concern of consumers being confused about source of sponsorship. The letter states the following:
MGM demands that you and your affiliates immediately remove the Rockyname and any references, images or promotions related to Rocky from any… materials you may be disseminating in connection with the Unauthorized Rocky Event…Please be advised that failure to comply with these demands will cause MGM to take appropriate legal action to protect its rights and interests to seek all injunctions, damages, fees and costs to which it is entitled under law.
It may appear that MGM has a legitimate claim based on the similarity of the events- in which both involve running, and the “Rocky” name. However, Ms. Schaffer may also have an argument based on fair use, and the first amendment. Such that, the “Rocky 50K Fat-Ass Run” is satirical in nature, in that no one is actually expected to take it seriously or run 50 kilometers.