Spike Lee Has To Put His Money Where His Mouth Is

Spike Lee Has To Put His Money Where His Mouth Is: I have been following Spike Lee’s Court Battle with Viacom over “Spike TV” since the story first broke. Here are the nuts and bolts of the case for those who aren’t familiar with it…

“(Spike Lee) is suing Viacom’s TNN over plans to change its name to “Spike TV.” Lee maintains that the name, along with the network’s marketing itself as “aggressive and irreverent,” could mislead people into thinking he’s affiliated with it.”

So basically Spike Lee is claiming that he’s so well known, so famous, so important, — so “aggressive and irreverent” (snicker), that anyone who hears the word, “Spike” is going to automatically associate it with him.

Of course, that is ridiculous. There are 13 entries found for spike in the dictionary, 3,140,000 uses of the word “spike” on Google, Spike Jonze, the director of “Being John Malkovich”, Spike the Vampire from the Buffy the Vampire series, and even the son of Spike Jones who has gotten involved because he fears this case could derail a project he’s working on entitled, “Spike”. So obviously, the word “Spike” is too common to ever be solely identified with one person — even one who is so delusional that he believes that the average person associates the words “aggressive and irreverent” with his name.

Now until today, I though Spike had a good chance of coming out of this case as a big winner because the judge had issued a, “preliminary injunction stopping TNN from changing its name earlier this month.” So you had to figure that Lee would drag this out as long as possible so he could try rake in a few million dollars when Viacom decided to settle because they couldn’t afford to wait any longer to switch the name.

However, things just got much more interesting. You see the judge ordered Lee to put up a, “$2.5 million bond by Monday – money that would go to The National Network if Lee loses his court battle against it.” That means Lee stands to fork over a cool $2,500,000 if he loses this frivolous lawsuit — which I believe he will in the end if he pursues it that far.

I gotta tell you that I like this and I wish this or some other variation of “loser pays” system was common all across our legal system. If you file a frivolous lawsuit against someone, you’re inconveniencing them, wasting their time & costing them money. So why shouldn’t you be responsible for compensating them for their trouble if you lose the case?

Although a “loser pays” system in common in Europe, a lot of people fear having such a system in the US because they think it might discourage poor people from filing legitimate suits. But, there are things we could do to lessen that concern. We could exempt certain types of cases from the “loser pays” system, we could have required pre-trial mediation in some instances where you only risk having to pay your opponent’s fees if your case is found to have no merit and you decide to go forward, etc, etc.

We can can put safeguards into a loser pays system that would protect people with legitimate grievances from getting soaked, while discouraging parasitic lawyers and their unprincipled clients from playing “lawsuit lottery” — and we should. Especially since it’s not just big companies being taken for a ride by these people, it’s all of us. After all, these corporations don’t just eat these lawyer fees & settlements, they pass the costs on to us and we the consumers pay for all these lawsuits in the end…

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