Really? Microsoft Sued by Gag Gift Company

Novelty firm claims Microsoft copies its ads

Remember those Microsoft Windows 7 ads depicting smartphone addicts who can’t put down their gadgets long enough to get busy in the bedroom and the bathroom?

There’s the silver-haired executive type who ignores his camisole-clad wife and the guy who drops his sleek phone in a urinal (and then awkwardly picks it up again).

Well, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based novelty company claims they were stolen.

In a lawsuit filed this week with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Cellrderm alleges that Microsoft and Crispin Porter + Bogusky (the agency behind the ads) infringed upon the company’s copyrighted creative content.

In the suit, Cellrderm, which makes a spoof “cellular abuse aid,” claims the defendants’ ads copy its own commercials for its gag gift.

“The Microsoft Commercials copy both the sequence of events and the character interplay found in the Cellrderm Commercials,” the lawsuit says. “The Microsoft Commercials also copy other copyrightable expression, including but not limited to clothing, gestures, character appearance, camera angles, and other visual elements from the Cellrderm Commercials.”

When reached by Adweek, Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Microsoft declined to comment.

The Microsoft ads, “Bedroom Really” and “Bathroom Really,” were launched toward the end of 2010 as part of a larger campaign for the firm's new Windows 7 smartphones. (Other ads featured a cellphone-obsessed jogger who slams into another runner and a masseuse who massages with her elbows while cradling a phone in her hands.)

The Cellrderm ads show scenarios very similar to the Microsoft bedroom and bathroom ads (although the company clearly had a much smaller budget to work with). Before filing the suit, Cellrderm sent Crispin Porter + Bogusky a cease and desist letter, the lawsuit says.

While the Cellrderm ads started running on YouTube in 2009, certificates filed with the U.S. Copyright office include a registration date of 2011.

In the suit, the novelty company asks for an injunction to prevent the further distribution of the Microsoft ads, as well as profits derived from the ads and other damages determined at trial.


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