Virgin sues Adrants for posting a parody ad

Virgin-us-airways copy

In a baffling act of litigious bullying, Virgin America has filed a lawsuit against the popular advertising blog Adrants for posting and commenting on a parody ad. The spoof ad showed a picture of that US Airways jet floating in the Hudson River, alongside the message "Fly Virgin America." Adrants initially noted that the ad's "origins are suspect," and later updated the post to make it clear that the ad was a parody from someone outside Virgin. Then Adrants pulled the item entirely. But that apparently wasn't enough for Virgin America, which on Monday filed a "complaint for trademark infringement, false designation of origin and false and deceptive advertising, trademark dilution, false and misleading statements, dilution in violation of California law, and defamation." (You can read the 14-page court document over on Cityfile.) Adrants scribes Steve Hall and Angela Natividad are wisely avoiding public comment on the issue. But it's hard to take this kind of threat seriously from the Virgin brand family, which has exploited a young girl's picture on Flickr and spun other people's PR disasters into profit. UPDATE: Adweek talks to some lawyers about the case. One believes Virgin has "a fairly weak case." And another wonders if the lawsuit, if not the parody ad, is part of a "brilliant viral marketing PR campaign" for Virgin. If so, it's not so brilliant.

—Posted by David Griner