Better known as the overachieving, hyper-enthusiastic Chotchkie’s waiter “Brian” from the iconic Mike Judge comedy “Office Space,” actor Todd Duffey has lost a lawsuit he filed over the use of his image in merchandise for the film—namely, the Office Space “Box of Flair” published by Perseus Book Group, which includes a book about the movie and 15 buttons.
Duffey alleged a violation of the Landham (Trademark) Act for the use of photos of him (in character) on the products and the packaging, seeking damages as well as a permanent injunction.
However, U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken “expressed himself” last week in an opinion that found the flair legitimate per the Day Player Agreement between Duffey and production company Cubicle, Inc. By signing the contract, Duffey had granted Cubicle “all rights throughout the universe” to his performance, including the rights to use images of him from the movie for promotional purposes. (Those rights were ultimately transferred to Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, the defendant in this case.) The suit was thusly dismissed.
When it comes to contract legalese, granting another party “all rights throughout the universe” is about as sweeping and comprehensive as it gets (albeit relatively standard).
Something closer to the “bare minimum” may have served Brian better in this case.