Judge Denies Fox News Channel’s Injunction
A judge in New York has denied Fox News Channel its request for an injunction to block humorist Al Franken from using the Fox slogan “fair and balanced” in the title of his new book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said the book is a parody protected by the First Amendment.
“This is an easy case. This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally,” Judge Chin said. “It is ironic that a media company, which should be protecting the First Amendment, is seeking to undermine it.”
The judge also said the “Fair and Balanced” trademark itself is weak, considering those words are used so frequently “in the context of the public marketplace.”
The network had asked that the Penguin Group-which had pushed the publication of “Lies” from September to Aug. 21 to take advantage of the publicity from the lawsuit-be barred from using “Fair and Balanced” on the cover of Mr. Franken’s book or in any promotions of it. Fox said it trademarked the slogan in 1998.
Mr. Franken called the ruling a victory for the First Amendment and “even bad satirists.”
“In addition to thanking my own lawyers,” Mr. Franken said, “I’d like to thank Fox’s lawyers for filing one of the stupidest briefs I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Penguin and Mr. Franken now could file a motion to dismiss the suit.
Penguin added 50,000 copies to the original run of 270,000 after the suit was filed. On Aug. 22, the book was No. 2 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list, behind “The South Beach Diet.”
A Fox spokesman said the network is considering its options, including an appeal. “We don’t care if it’s Al Franken, Al Lewis or Weird Al Yankovic,” he said. “We’re here to protect our trademark and our talent.”
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