National Geographic Wins in ‘Wild America’ Show Trademark Case

Written May 13, 2020

National Geographic Partners LLC beat back trademark infringement claims by the makers of the PBS nature series “Wild America” after a federal court in Colorado found National Geographic TV had an artistic motive for naming its nature show “Untamed Americas.” Stouffer v. Nat’l Geographic Digital Media, D. Colo., No. 18-cv-3127, 5/8/20.

Marty Stouffer Productions produced the nature documentary series “Wild America,” which ran on PBS from 1982 into the mid-1990s. Nat Geo TV aired a nature series titled “Untamed Americas” in the US and “Wild America” internationally in 2012.

The Court rejected the Second Circuit’s Rogers test, calling it “needlessly rigid” and failing “to account for the realities of each situation.” Instead, it asked whether Nat Geo had a “genuine artistic motive” for choosing its titles unrelated to Stouffer’s trademarks. Under this standard, it dismissed Stouffer’s complaint because it found a “strong” inference that Nat Geo’s motive was genuinely artistic, because the titles “correspond closely to nature documentary programming.”