Organisers of the Oscars have filed a lawsuit against a marketing firm promising plastic surgery vouchers and holidays in a $200,000 ( € 178,570 ) gift bag for attendees of the ceremony.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences accused Distinctive Assets of promoting the gift bags as official Oscars swag. The package includes a “Vampire Breast Lift”, laser skin-tightening procedure, sex toys and a 10-day first-class trip to Israel.
“Distinctive Assets uses the Academy’s trademarks to raise the profile of its ‘gift bags’ and falsely create the impression of association, affiliation, connection, sponsorship and/or endorsement,” said the lawsuit, which names the company’s founder, Lash Fary, as a defendant.
Gift bags have been a persistent headache over the years for the Academy, which stopped giving gift baskets to presenters and performers in 2007 after the practice came under closer scrutiny by US tax authorities. Celebrities who receive gifts and free vacations at awards shows are expected to declare them as income and pay the appropriate taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The lawsuit said Mr Fary was misleading media outlets by promoting the gift bags with slogans like “Everyone Wins Nominee Gift Bags in Honor of the Oscars(R),” adding that the use of the trademark symbol was a deliberate attempt to imply an official connection.
The Academy cited numerous news articles that referred to the gift bags as “official” or as “Oscar Swag Bags,” arguing the coverage shows Mr Fary has engaged in deceptive marketing. The lawsuit asked a federal judge to prevent him from using any Academy trademark and seeks compensation for damages as well as three times the amount of his profits and the academy’s legal fees.
The Oscars take place next Sunday 28th February with Leonardi Di Caprio expected to take the Best Actor award for his role in The Revenants