Wednesday, 14 November 2012

"American Digger" Nothing to do with "American Digger"

Greybird Publishers, the publisher of "American Digger" magazine say that Spike TV's reality series, American Digger, has been bad for the image of the metal collecting hobby and want the programme to cease using the name. The 'Viacom' TV show has been in the centre of controversy since it premiered in March, first the archaeologists expressed their concerns, then artefact hunters realised that the image it was projecting was not doing their hobby a lot of good. As a result of people assuming that the magazine and TV show were related, the magazine began receiving "a barrage of calls, e-mails and unfavorable comments on hobbyist forums from subscribers and hobbyists alarmed by the show's highly inflammatory and negative depiction of their hobby and the risks the show posed for the ability of hobbyists to continue their metal detecting activities". They have a disclaimer:  

Disclaimer: American Digger®  Magazine has no direct affiliation with Spike TV’s American Digger show, its producers, or stars.  Our magazine remains independent of any other entertainment venues, and is dedicated to the hobby of responsible recovery of artifacts for enjoyment and historical importance only.
Now the publisher of American Digger Magazine has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Viacom for confusing consumers and damaging its mark.
 Grady "Butch" Holcombe and his wife Anita Holcombe are the publishers of the metal-digging hobbyist publication. [...] The Holcombes say they have spent much time trying to clear up the confusion between their own magazine, which purportedly portrays metal detecting and excavation of artifacts related to America's heritage, to the Spike show, which allegedly emphasizes "the hopes of striking it rich and capitalizing on unearthing and selling bits of American History."[...] In reaction, a Viacom spokesperson said, "This is a surprising lawsuit on a number of levels. Primarily due to the fact that – although not disclosed in his complaint – we were issued a valid license from the plaintiff that permits our full use of the ‘American Digger’ trademark.”
If the latter is true, this seems a bit like a repeat of what happened over the dreadful "Britain's Secret Treasures" show earlier this year,  where the most charitable interpretation is that some of the people who lent their authority to the programme had not been fully briefed as to what it actually consisted of.

Eriq Gardner, 'Viacom Sued Over Spike TV's 'American Digger' ', The Hollywood Reporter, 31st October 2012.

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