Historically, trademark issues haven't exactly been a hot-button topic amongst adult industry professionals, and the infringement was somewhat tolerated.
However, adult industry attorney Corey D. Silverstein, of the Law Offices of Corey D. Silverstein, P.C. in Detroit, Mich., told AVN Online that he believes the exponential expansion of the Internet, the increase in online adult competition, and a decrease in paying customers due to free tube sites and sites containing stolen content, is forcing the industry to take action. In many cases, this means companies and performers will be forced to duke it out in court.
"The Devinn Lane case illustrates a developing trend in our industry," Silverstein explained. "People should learn from the Lane case and always consult a trademark specialist to make sure all of their intellectual properties are properly trademarked, copyrighted and patented. Furthermore, one should make certain their activities aren't infringing on someone's protected intellectual property."
Silverstein urges professionals to hire lawyers specializing in these areas. "Hiring a lawyer may initially cost you a couple thousand dollars," he said. "Consider the alternative, which is paying approximately a $100,000 to defend a lawsuit and potentially having to pay several large penalties that could wipe out your business altogether ."
In Lane's case, filed in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, she alleged Digital Playground, Vivid Entertainment Group, Moniker Online Services and several other companies profited from domain names similar to her performer name and did not compensate her.
"Clearly an adult model's name is their most valuable asset and it is largely within their best interests to protect it," Silverstein added. "There is no doubt that adult models are faced with challenges they've never dealt with before. Adult models are facing a larger industry with fewer paying customers, and every day stolen content is being posted, domain-redirection is rampant and fake ads and deceptive traffic tactics seem to be the new norm."
As all these issues become more common, it is becoming more apparent that adult models are consulting trademark specialists and taking the appropriate steps to protect their names.
"More then ever before, adult models and actors are finding it increasingly difficult to make money," Silverstein said. "As such, they are taking much greater care in protecting their intellectual property."
Lane is seeking an injunction over the use of the domain names in question, damages and attorney's fees.
"It appears that Devinn Lane was properly trademarked in 2002 and depending on her proofs, she theoretically may be able to emerge victorious," Silverstein added. "Only time will tell, but whatever the outcome, this case may prove to forever change the adult industry."
Attorney Michael Fattorosi, representing Lane, declined to comment further on the details surrounding this case.
Representatives for Vivid Entertainment Group and Digital Playground were unavailable for comment.
Silverstein's practice focuses on handling various areas of law that affect the adult industry, including content producers, corporate law, criminal law, contract law, constitutional law and litigation. His clients include hosting companies, website companies, affiliate programs, webmasters, and adult performers. For information on representation, contact Corey D. Silverstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.