The resolution of arbitration between Warren Miller Entertainment (WME) and Warren Miller, himself, could restart legal proceedings between WME and Level 1 Productions. The legal battles started in September 2009 with a trademark infringement lawsuit brought against Level 1 by WME for the use of Miller in the 2009 Level 1 film “Refresh.” Last October, the Level 1 case was put on hold by Judge Christine Arguello for arbitration between WME and Miller to clarify past rights agreements between those two parties.
The three-man arbitration panel decided earlier this month that WME did own Miller’s publicity rights for ski films. The panel, however, denied a breach of contract claim for the “Refresh” appearance, because WME was not able to prove specific damages.
With the end of the arbitration, the federal court technically reopened the case between WME and Level 1 on Wednesday. The prospect of the case actually proceeding, however, remains in doubt. Dean Turcol, vice president of corporate communications for Bonnier Corp., the parent of WME, said by e-mail Friday that his company is “currently considering our options.”
Josh Berman, owner and founder of Level 1, also commented by e-mail on Friday. “WME’s trademark infringement case against Level 1 is based on two things- claims of damages to the WME brand, and claims that Level 1 intentionally misled consumers into thinking that our film and company was part of WME or somehow associated with their brand,” he said.
“It’s fairly cut and dry that Level 1 would never have such intentions, and in light of the arbitration panel concluding that no damages resulted from Warren’s participation in our film, I’d like to think that at this point in time WME will just drop the case.
“Realistically we all have better things to do with our time and money than to continue arguing about a year-old ski film, and I can’t imagine that there’s anything to be gained by either side by going to court over it,” Berman added. “I’m very much looking forward to putting this whole thing behind us one way or the other, and moving forward with our respective businesses.”
(Photo courtesy of Warren Miller Company)