Of “The Evil Dead” and abandoned trademarks

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Any horror buffs here in Miami who are worth their salt have certainly heard of “The Evil Dead.” This zombie flick is the textbook definition of a cult classic. It made very little money in its theatrical run, but later found an audience on video and wound up establishing its director, Sam Raimi, as a respected filmmaker.

Now, “The Evil Dead” has taken center stage in a dispute over whether Raimi and his production company abandoned the trademark to the franchise. If a trademark has been “abandoned,” that means the party who once held the trademark no longer has any rights with respect to it.

Another production company, Award Pictures, was trying to make a fourth installment in the film series (which stopped at 1992’s “Army of Darkness”). It claimed that in a 2000 book, Raimi said that he never planned to make another “Evil Dead” film. It also noted that in the years since the first “Evil Dead” film came out in 1981, Raimi has been lackadaisical about protecting his mark. Award Pictures claims the phrase “Evil Dead” has been used in as many as 20 other movies.

However, it was Raimi who won the most recent round because Award Pictures failed to respond in court in a timely fashion. Even so, Award Pictures now claims to have hired a lawyer and plans to make up for lost time, though it seems (from an outside perspective, at least) that it may be too late. Production has reportedly finished on a rival fourth “Evil Dead” film that has Raimi’s blessing.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Sam Raimi Blocks Unauthorized ‘Evil Dead‘ Sequel,” Eriq Gardner, Aug. 28, 2012