In the words of fictitious NASCAR icon Ricky Bobby, “That there is trademarked, not to be used without written permission of Ricky Bobby Inc .”
Columbia Pictures is suing the Houston company that owns Ricky Bobby Sports Saloon and Restaurant, accusing it of trademark infringement and illegal use of the name and other marks associated with the character played by Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Filed this month in Houston federal court, the lawsuit says Rick’s Cabaret International, which owns the north Fort Worth sports bar, is using intellectual property that is “uniquely identifiable with the picture,” such as scantily clad waitresses referred to as “smokin’ hotties” and a sign that says, “If you ain’t first,” a reference to a line from the 2006 comedy.
Attorneys for Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Consumer Products, could not be reached for comment.
Representatives from Rick’s Cabaret declined to comment on the suit. The restaurant is at 2200 NE Loop 820, about 10 miles south of Texas Motor Speedway, where NASCAR races are held yearly.
Columbia is seeking monetary relief for “dilution, unlawful domain name registration, trademark infringement, and unjust enrichment.”
Talladega Nights tells the story of Ricky Bobby and childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr. (portrayed by John C. Reilly), who become NASCAR drivers.
Ricky Bobby — often at Cal’s expense — becomes a champion driver. He lives by the advice of his estranged father, also a former driver: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
Ricky Bobby also has a “smokin’ hot” wife and two sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, who offer such jewels as “Old man, I’m gonna come at you like a spider monkey!”
According to the lawsuit, the movie earned about $47 million during its opening weekend, the second-highest opening weekend in history for an original comedy, and it continues to bring in revenue through DVD sales and cable showings.
Court documents describe how the restaurant features a replica race car that is nearly identical to the Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Ricky Bobby. The restaurant also has a website, www.rickybobbyftw.com.
Columbia Pictures is also seeking injunctive relief, actual and enhanced damages, company profits and reasonable attorney fees.
As Ricky Bobby says, “Chip, you brought this on, man.”