Making a film in California sometimes results in some unexpected surprises, such as legal action. This is what’s happening with a 2014 Bill Murray movie. A horse-racing announcer is suing the film’s production company over what he claims is trademark infringement. The case centers around the phrase “And down the stretch they come!” which the announcer first used in the 1960s. It later became a well-known phrase when he used it during horse races shown on broadcast TV in the 1970s.
Inspired by what another announcer did with the iconic phrase “Let’s get ready to rumble,” the horse-racing announcer trademarked his popular phrase in 2012. The trademark infringement suit involves the unauthorized use of the phrase in a movie that has Bill Murray playing a retired, grumpy alcoholic who bets on horses. The lawsuit claims that the utterance of “And down the stretch they come!” by the unsavory character Murray plays in film tarnishes and damages the reputation of the announcer who owns the trademark for that phrase.
The film’s original production company has since been acquired by another company. Both companies are referenced in the suit. The latter company has not commented on the legal action. Incidentally, the man behind “Let’s get ready to rumble” filed a similar suit concerning the unauthorized use of his phrase in a 1990s movie for the same reason. That case was eventually settled out of court.
In a similar situation, a trademark infringement litigation lawyer may first attempt to resolve the matter by reaching a reasonable settlement. A cease-and-desist letter may be sent as well to inform the infringer of their violation. If dilution statutes are violated, like what is being contended in the case discussed above, compensation might be sought to make up for damage done to the trademark holder’s reputation.