Netflix has been contending with an ongoing trademark dispute with the family of Pablo Escobar, the deceased Colombian drug lord depicted in the streaming service’s show “Narcos,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
THR obtained a letter written by lawyers for Narcos Productions, LLC (NPL), the company behind the Netflix series and its accompanying video game “Narcos: Cartel Wars,” which outlines a series of “fraudulent,” “Narcos”-related trademarks filed by the Escobar family in August 2016.
“For example,” NPL lawyer Jill M. Pietrini writes, “Escobar claims that it has used NARCOS in connection with things like ‘operating a website’ and ‘game services provided online from a computer network’ since Jan. 31, 1986. However, the internet had not been developed for widespread consumer use in 1986, nor was the capability to provide audiovisual works nor game services available at that time.”
The letter, sent on July 27, also includes trademark claim documents from the Escobars for items related to the show, ranging from “downloadable ring tones” and “sunglasses, decorative magnets,” to “temporary tattoos, bookmarks and sheet music.”
In the document, NPL lawyers threaten to sue the Escobar family for damages related to “unauthorized use.”
(Netflix recently sent a more tonally light-hearted, though still legally serious, cease-and-desist letter to an unauthorized “Stranger Things” pop-up bar in Chicago.)
Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, Escobar’s 71-year-old surviving brother and the former accountant for the Medellín Cartel, has repeatedly demanded that Netflix pay $1 billion to his company, Escobar Inc., for intellectual property violations.
“A billion is what we used to make in a good week in the 1980s and 1990s,” Gaviria said in 2016. “Apparently money is now growing on trees in favor of Netflix after my show was released. They should pay me immediately.”
On Monday, Gaviria again threatened Netflix, saying he would “close their little show” with legal action if they didn’t pay him $1 billion.
The streaming service released the third season of “Narcos” on September 1.
Shooting for its upcoming fourth season has been marred by the death of Carlos Muñoz Portal, a location scout for the show, who was killed last Friday in a rural, cartel-dominated area near Mexico City. Gaviria told THR on Monday that Netflix should hire “hitmen” as security if they continue to film in Mexico and Colombia.
Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read the full Hollywood Reporter article here.
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