PORN VALLEY - Noname Jane: She's a veteran of over 225 adult videos, and for years one of the hottest ladies in the industry. Oral, vaginal, anal - she did it all, and it was enough to win her AVN's Best New Starlet award for 2002.
What? You don't remember ever seeing an adult video starring "Noname Jane"? Well, that's probably because until a couple of days ago, Noname was known by another name, a name she's used since 2000: Violet Blue.
Trouble is, there's another "Violet Blue" out there; the one who writes a sex advice column for the San Francisco Chronicle, has edited several books on erotic stories, and has contributed material to various Internet sites - but as we noted in our earlier article on this subject, author Blue's bonafides only go back to 2001, according to her Wikipedia entry - months after actress Blue began using the name.
So author Blue sued actress Blue in federal court, possibly aware that actress Blue, having more-or-less retired from performing in order to raise her family, was nearly indigent and couldn't afford to defend herself. The result has been two court orders filed within the past week; the first, a preliminary injunction supposedly returning the name dispute to its pre-infringement status; the second, an order requiring actress Blue and her "agents, servants, employees, attorneys, distributors and all other persons, firms or corporations, acting in concert and participation with her," to stop using "names, trademarks and Internet domains confusingly similar to, or identical to, Plaintiff's trademark VIOLET BLUE," and perhaps more importantly for the adult industry, "using the phrase 'Violet Blue' in association with any goods or service."
"I would appreciate if you put up something to alert all the companies I've worked for that THEY need to change my name to Noname Jane on everything they have me listed as Violet Blue on," writes actress Blue in an email received today.
Of course, there's one little problem with Judge Susan Illston's order: Most of the affected parties haven't had a chance to challenge it.
"The position of anybody I represent," said First Amendment attorney Clyde DeWitt, "is going to be that you can't just summarily order a third party who hasn't been served with copies of anything, and hasn't had a chance to be heard in court - I mean, we have arguments that she [actress Blue] didn't make. What the issue was there was, going forward, she's sitting there saying, 'Well, as far as existing movies that are out there, I have no control over them. I won't distribute any; I don't distribute movies anyway.' The distributors have different arguments and are in a different position, and they are entitled to go before the court and make their pitch."
"What they would have a right to do," DeWitt continued, "is to intervene and basically say, 'The court's entered an order that essentially suggests that if Violet Blue hands us a copy of this order, we're bound by it, and we haven't had anything to say yet, so due process gives us the right to have our day in court and we would like that.' That's what an intervention petition is. It's basically, 'I have a stake in this case and I have a right to be heard,' and that, I think, procedurally, is what I think will end up happening."
And then there's the problem of the claims made in author Blue's lawsuit.
"[S]ince 1999, plaintiff has regularly published articles on the Internet about human sexuality, erotica, and pornography," Author Blue claims. "Plaintiff's reputation in the field of human sexuality was such that she signed a book deal on January 17, 2001, to write a book called The Sweet Life: Stories of Sexual Fantasies and Adventures for Couples."
Author Blue will have to provide proof of her "reputation in the field of human sexuality" that predates the signing of her book deal in January, 2001, while actress Blue's reputation at the time was on every video shelf in the country for anyone to see. Various companies released 11 titles in 2000 featuring actress Blue, as shown on her Internet Adult Film Database entry.
Author Blue filed for a trademark on her name on March 2, 2007, but it's unknown whether she saw fit to apprise actress Blue of the trademark attempt. At least as of November 6, 2007, actress Blue had no attorney to handle the case, and it was just a month and a half later that author Blue's trademark was published for opposition, giving anyone 30 days from that date to object to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granting the mark, which actress Blue apparently did not do - but not being an attorney herself, she may not have known either of the publication or the necessity for objection.
Therefore, despite Judge Illston's order, more proceedings in the case are likely.
"This is still at the preliminary injunction stage; it's not over," DeWitt explained. "The preliminary injunction standards are 'likelihood of success on the merits and relative injuries,' and I don't think they've done any discovery yet and that sort of thing. Certainly, nobody's been heard on the issue of, 'Well, her name is one thing, but what about already-existing product? You're doing a prior restraint of speech here,' which has to be pretty strongly justified. Anyone who is in the line of distribution and gets served with that order can intervene in the lawsuit. Clients I have represented in the past, and some whom I'm representing now, they may or may not hire me to handle this matter. They have a right to a day in court before there's an injunction against them."
Meanwhile, actress Blue is trying to be philosophical about the whole thing, though the loss of her name would mean the loss of a significant portion of her income, which she derives from her existing Website.
"She [author Blue] made me take down my site; that was part of the court order," actress Blue wrote in an email. "Looks like we're going to try to settle on the 22nd. Mandatory arbitration or something like that. So we'll see. For now, though, I'm using the name 'Noname Jane.' Hopefully I can make that name as big as I did Violet Blue, or preferably bigger! I did a trademark search on Noname Jane, and no one has it."
"On a happier note, I will be making my way down to Los Angeles and Las Vegas around June 15-20th. So if anyone would like to hire me for a shoot despite my lack of name, please let me know. Just email me for recent pictures! I can't wait to visit with everyone! Love, Noname Jane."
Producers can contact Noname for bookings at her usual email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.