This week, it has been announced that Netflix have sent Pablo Escobar’s 71-year old surviving brother – Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria – a “long letter” to “threaten” the family after they promised to “close their little show” if the streaming giant failed to provide a $1 billion payment to his company, Escobar Inc., for intellectual property violations over the Narcos series. It comes in the same week that a member of the Narcos production team was shot dead trying to find filming locations in Mexico.
The letter was prepared and sent at the end of July by he powerhouse Los Angeles firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP. The Hollywood Reported got hold of the letter and originally reported the story.
In it, lawyers for Narcos Productions, LLC (NPL) — the company behind the series and its popular video game spinoff Narcos: Cartel Wars — contend that without NPL’s “knowledge or consent, on Aug. 20, 2016, Escobar filed use-based applications to register the marks NARCOS and CARTEL WARS with the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] covering a range of goods and services.” The services mentioned include everything from “downloadable ring tones” and “sunglasses, decorative magnets” to “temporary tattoos, bookmarks and sheet music,” according to the trademark application documents included with the letter.
“For example,” writes NPL attorney Jill M. Pietrini, “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.”
Pietrini goes on to say that the specimen used by Escobar for the trademark application “appears to be either from NPL’s advertising or, at the very least, an infringing artwork that infringes NPL’s copyrights in the Narcos Game.” Lawyers for Netflix then threaten to retaliate by counter-suing the Escobar family.
“The remedies available to NPL for Escobar’s use of the Narcos Marks include, but are not limited to, NPL’s actual damages, statutory damages, Escobar’s profits attributable to the unauthorized use of the NARCOS and CARTEL WARS marks, attorneys’ fees, a bar to registration of the NARCOS and CARTEL WARS trademarks, and a nationwide injunction against Escobar’s further use of the NARCOS and CARTEL WARS marks or any other mark confusingly similar to the Narcos Marks,” the letter says.
You can read this story in more depth on The Hollywood Reporter.