Cousteau Society Says Documentary Promos Violate Trademark

sculpture: Lev Razumovsky; image: Maria Razumovskaya - the website of Lev Razumovsky http://www.lev-razumovsky.ru/eng/medals/cousteau.htm. Original image taken from home archive.

The Jacques Cousteau Society has sued one of the marine explorer’s granddaughters and France TV for allegedly infringing intellectual property in an upcoming documentary.

Promotional materials for Celine Cousteau’s documentary infringes the society’s trademark interest in the phrase “The Journey Continues,” as well as the name and an image of the late explorer wearing his distinctive red cap, the Sept. 13 complaint says.

“Celine Cousteau, the Adventure Continues,” which retraces some of her grandfather’s travels, is using the society’s registered trademarks without permission in its promotional materials, according to the complaint.

The society holds at least 10 U.S. trademark registrations, including phrases that incorporate Cousteau’s name and his red cap.

According to the complaint, the phrase “The Adventure Continues” is confusingly similar to its “The Journey Continues” trademark.

The society said that the defendants agreed in August 2018 to stop using the trademarks, but subsequently distributed a brochure and press kit that included allegedly infringing uses.

The lawsuit seeks an order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York barring the film producers from using the society’s trademarks and unspecified money damages.

Cousteau died at age 87 in 1997. In the 1940s, Cousteau began using underwater filming techniques to produce documentaries. His research vessel, the Calypso, appeared in numerous TV shows and films over nearly five decades.

His widow, Francine Cousteau, and children Diane and Pierre-Yves Cousteau are members of the society’s board.

The society continues to fund an operate a series of educational programs and conservation efforts.

Celine Cousteau could not be immediately reached for comment by Bloomberg Law.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP represents the Jacques Cousteau Society.

The case is Cousteau Society, Inc. v. Cousteau, S.D.N.Y., No. 18-8341, complaint filed 9/13/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at amazumdar@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloomberglaw.com