Colbert and Stewart EXPOSED

Posted by | November 22, 2010 | General | 9 Comments

I am fortunate that being a trademark attorney is my dream job.  I love puzzle solving and that’s what my job is all about, helping my clients put all the pieces together to maximize return and minimize risk.

My other dream job is to be a researcher for The Daily Show

or The Colbert Report.

You know, those folks who sit at computers all day long locating all the stupefying images and hysterical soundbites that Stewart and Colbert use on their programs night after night, that’s what I wanna be.  I am certain that the only thing holding me back from such an illustrious post is my desire to remain at Lake Tahoe.  I can only hope that once Jon Stewart finally discovers me he will ask me to be his first remote Left Coast Correspondent. . .

Until then, I wait.  And while I do, I shall expose the exposure!  That’s right!  Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are completely exposed — as far as their trademarks go.

Jon Stewart

Paramount Pictures once owned a US trademark registration for THE JON STEWART SHOW, but they allowed it to become canceled by failing to renew it in 2002.  An individual (fan, I presume) named Dave Sasscer applied to federally register the trademark JON STEWART IS GOD for a number of apparel items, including “disposable underwear,” “sedge hats,” and an odd assortment of “gussets,” but he abandoned the application by failing to respond to an Office Action denying registration.  THE DAILY SHOW previously was registered to Comedy Partners composed of Viacom HA! Holding Company, and Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P., but, like THE JON STEWART SHOW, that registration also was canceled for failure to renew in 2009.  There are no current pending applications or U.S. federal registrations for JON STEWART or THE DAILY SHOW or MOMENT OF ZEN.

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert also has no U.S. federal trademark registrations or pending applications for any of his brands, including:

Perhaps this is understandable, since Colbert recently poked fun at Nintendo’s trademark application for IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG.  During the November 11, 2011 episode, Colbert stated that he would rush to the USPTO to squat on dated catch-prases in order to sell them to their obvious owners (for example, he would sell TALK TO THE HAND to Isotoner gloves and SHOW ME THE MONEY to E*Trade).  Since he has yet to protect his own assets, that might just be a good idea.

Who Owns Them?

Perhaps these gentlemen have not yet registered their marks because they do not own them.  I often ponder who owns the rights to all these marks.  If Paramount once owned THE JON STEWART  SHOW, and Comedy Central’s predecessor once owned the rights to THE DAILY SHOW, then who owns THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART?  And where does Jon Stewart fit into in all of this?  My guess is that he doesn’t, likewise with Colbert (sorry, guys!).

I presume that their contracts with Comedy Central provide for the station’s ownership of their show’s trademarks.  Short of seeing their contracts, the only way we’ll ever know is if registration applications are filed with the USPTO, or if trademark litigation ensues over the marks, or, if Jon Stewart hires me as his Left Coast Correspondent . . .

About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.


  • Gil Pequeno says:

    good stuff. Do you have a RSS feed? And also would it be cool if I put in your feed to a site of mine? I have a blog that pulls content through RSS feeds out of a few sites and I would like to add yours, the majority of people really don’t mind because I link back and everything but I like to get authorization first. Anyhow let me know if you can, thanks.

    • Lara says:

      Thanks for your comment and for helping get the word out about my blog, Gil!

      There is an RSS feed icon to the left of the Twitter and FB icons on the top right of the home page of the blog; please feel free to grab it and thanks for asking.

      Enjoy your day.

  • jansen Li says:

    Hey, I just found this article through Google. I like the idea assumed by the article. I’m going to subscribe to your feeds hoping to like again.

  • Lara says:

    Avid bloggers inspire me. I aspire to be more like you. Thanks kindly for reading, commenting and spreading the word!

  • Coco says:

    Ok. As a Viacom/MTV Networks insider: there are a lot of strange parts to this. Most of them will make things a lot more complicated and really not give you a firm answer.

    You have to take into consideration that Paramount, Viacom, Ha!, Comedy Partners, and Comedy Central are all (or have been) the same entity. Also, the show is actually produced by Busboy Productions, only in conjunction with Comedy Central. So I suspect that the ownership of trademarks is mutually shared, upon agreement. I will say that I’ve never had trouble working with any assets from either show; although all of my usage has been for primarily internal purposes. Knowing how my company clings to its ownership rights (such as the way Viacom went after YouTube) I doubt they’ll let anything slip through the cracks.

    On a happier note, Stewart is part of Busboy Productions. So he does retain a lot of his own rights. That’s why you don’t see a lot of “Daily Show” merchandise out there. He has a lot of power of approval on things. (Which I HAVE encountered.)

    I know. It doesn’t answer anything.

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  • Jason Payette says:

    Either show would be blessed to have you and your passion on their side!

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