Celebrity Justice - The FindLaw Celebrities and The Law Blog

Cease and Desist, B**ch: Omarosa v. Pettifleur Book Battle

It seems Omarosa didn't really pay attention when she was on The Apprentice.

The reality star and Apprentice alum, Omarosa Manigault sent a cease-and-desist letter to Real Housewives of Melbourne star Pettifleur Berenger. Omarosa claims that Pettifleur's book Switch the Bitch: My Formula to Being the Champion of Your Life, Not the Victim infringes on Omarosa's copyright for The Bitch Switch: Knowing How to Turn It On and Off. Omarosa claims that the titles are too similar.

Omarosa demands that Pettifleur provide a full accounting of her book sales and pull the book from store shelves immediately. If not, Omarosa will sue for $150,000 for each violation of her copyright.

All Bark and No Bite

Like a yappy frou-frou dog, Omarosa's cease-and-desist letter is all talk. It has no legal ground to stand on.

Copyright infringement protects works of authorship, but identifying words, names, and symbols, such as titles, are trademarks. You can't copyright a title, so we'll focus on trademark infringement instead. 

Title Trademark?

First of all, you can't trademark the title of a single book. You just can't. Under sections 1, 2, and 45 of the Trademark Act, "the title, or a portion of a title, of a single creative work must be refused registration ... unless the title has been used on a series of creative works."

So, J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter series title could be trademarked, but Omarosa's single book title cannot.

US vs. Australia

Maybe Omarosa doesn't know, but Melbourne, home of Pettifleur Berenger, is in Australia. So even if trademark, not copyright is the correct legal issue here, U.S. trademarks only apply in the United States. They hold no power in any other country. A U.S. trademark would not be able to stop someone in Australia from using the exact same title with impunity. To protect her trademark in Australia, Omarosa would have to apply for a trademark there.

Not Even The Same

Trademarks protect against consumers mistaking or confusing one product with another protected similarly named product. But these two titles really aren't even that similar. They both use the word "bitch,"  and "switch" but that's about it.  Omarosa's face is the key component of her book cover. So, the likelihood that consumers would think the two books are from the same source is minuscule at best.

So Omarosa, you can send as many cease-and-desist letters as you want, but you're not going to win a single dime in court -- not with a copyright argument and not with a trademark argument.

Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Facebook and Twitter (@FindLawConsumer).

Related Resources: