Multiple Emmy Award winner Bill Cosby got a website shut down after targeting the site in a dispute over its name. L.A. Weekly reports that the website, Cosbysweaters.com, backed off on using the name rather than put up a legal fight.
The Cosby Sweaters site, named for the trademark sweaters worn by Cosby on the hit 1980s NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show,” reopened as Next Impulse Sports. The site says it’s dedicated to "sports fans who love music, tech, pop culture and dumb Internet videos."
The name change happened after Cosby’s attorney sent a threatening letter to the site’s founder, USC alum Kiley Kmiec. The cease-and-desist letter included the threat of a civil suit and the demand that the site stop using the name within five days.
“The site published an excerpt of the letter, which seems to plant an intellectual property flag squarely on a stack of those ’80s sweaters,” the L.A. Weekly report says.
The letter says in part: “The multi-colored, multi-patterned sweaters that Mr. Cosby wore on ‘The Cosby Show,’ an iconic television program that aired from 1984 through 1992 and has continued in broadcast as reruns and in syndication both domestically and internationally through the present, are strongly associated with Cosby. The term ‘Cosby Sweater’ instantly evokes Mr. Cosby and The Cosby Show.”
The report notes: “The site could have argued ‘fair use’ — that Cosby is a public figure subject to comment and criticism; that the name isn’t a ripoff but rather a fair reflection that leads nowhere near the commerce of the Cosby industry.
“Kmiec says he could have held fast, but if this ended up in court it would have been expensive.”
Kmiec commented: “We think we could fight this case in court. Unfortunately though, we don’t have the millions of Puddin’ Pops to mount what could be a long and costly legal fight. The bottom line is this: It got hot and we have ditched the Cosby Sweaters name. We’ve got bigger and better match-ups to focus on. So long, Cosby’s Sweaters.”
He added: "We didn’t have the funds to stand up and play a game of chicken."
The site has reportedly seen about a 50% reduction in traffic with the new name.