Tyler Perry wins rights to 'What Would Jesus Do' trademark
Tyler Perry won a trademark battle over the use of the term "What Would Jesus Do" in a decision that was recently made public.
The media mogul fought former "I Want to Work for Diddy" castmember Kimberly Kearney over the use of WWJD and won, although Kearney had registered the trademark first.
The former reality star, who was nicknamed "Poprah" on the VH1 show, registered the use of "What Would Jesus Do" in January 2008 for the purposes of "entertainment services in the nature of an on-going reality based television program." She also stated that she first used WWJD in commerce in November 2007.
In May 2008, Tyler Perry also filed for the trademark, requesting the use of "What Would Jesus Do" for "entertainment services, namely arranging and conducting live concerts and producing television program and motion picture films." Neither Kearney nor Perry filed for the right to use the name of "Jesus" outside of "What Would Jesus Do."
Nearly three years later, in February 2011, Perry filed a petition to cancel Kearney's registration. His team alleged that Kearney was squatting on the trademark—not moving forward with her WWJD-based reality show, and not securing meetings or selling the show to any networks.
Kearney claimed that she actually secured a meeting with Tyler Perry Studios, and pitched the show to him. She also claimed that "not many months after sharing this program and soliciting [Perry] for financial support of this program, [Perry] filed to register this mark; consequently, eventually resulting in this cancellation proceeding." Kearney also said that she posted auditions online for her reality show.
Perry's attorneys filed a Request for Admission, asking Kearney to acknowledge that she had not sold the show and did not intend to. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found that Kearney did not answer the Request in a timely manner, and therefore "the facts included are deemed admitted and are 'conclusively established,'" the Hollywood Reporter wrote.
"Despite Respondent's denials in her answer to [Perry's] petition, the deemed admissions supersede those denials and we are bound by them," the board said.
The judgment was made last month.
In regards to the allegation that Perry ripped off her "What Would Jesus Do" television show idea, the board wrote: "These allegations are unsupported and we may not adduce any facts from them."
Kearney took to Twitter to tell her side of the story.
"The WHOLE story has not been told! Press don't knw I gave evidence that was NOT EVEN LOOKED AT, he won on a technicality & wouldn't TESTIFY!" she wrote Thursday.
"Thanks every1 who has reached out bout the board letting @tylerperry steal my trademark 4 What Would Jesus Do-but its not over-God got this!"
Perry has not issued a response.