Academy sues over Oscars gift bag with vapes and vibrators

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Got Swag? Oscar Gift Bags Revealed

See any stories of late about expensive swag that attendees to the upcoming Academy Awards are getting? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences certainly has -- and it's not pleased.The social media hashtag that has prompted a lawsuit this award season is not #OscarsSoWhite. Rather, it's #OscarGiftBag.

On Tuesday, the Academy went to California federal court against Lash Fary, otherwise known as Distinctive Assets, a marketing company that specializes in product promotion through celebrity integration.

The organization that puts on the Oscars says it has no affiliation with gift bags said to contain hundreds of thousands of dollars of merchandise including vapes and vibrators. But according to its complaint asserting trademark infringement, the defendant is nonetheless confusing consumers with slogans such as "Everyone Wins At The Oscars®! Nominee Gift Bags," and "Everyone Wins Nominee Gift Bags in Honor of the Oscars®."

See photos of this year's Academy Awards nominees:

18 PHOTOS
Academy Award nominations 2016, Oscars
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Academy sues over Oscars gift bag with vapes and vibrators

Best Picture

The Big Short

(Photo via Paramount Pictures)

Best Picture

Bridge of Spies

(Photo via DreamWorks II Distribution Co.)

Best Picture

Brooklyn

(Photo via Fox Searchlight)

Best Picture

Mad Max: Fury Road

(Photo via Warner Bros. Pictures)

Best Picture

The Martian

(Photo via 20th Century Fox)

Best Picture

The Revenant

(Photo via Twentieth Century Fox)

Best Picture

Room

(Photo via A24 Films)

Best Picture

Spotlight

(Photo via Open Road Films)

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Best Actor

Matt Damon

(Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio

(Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for Screen Actors Guild Foundation)

Best Actor

Michael Fassbender

(Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)

Best Actor

Eddie Redmayne

(Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Best Actress

Cate Blanchette

(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Best Actress

Brie Larson

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Best Actress

Jennifer Lawrence

(Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)

Best Actress

Charlotte Rampling

(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/WireImage)

Best Actress

Saoirse Ronan

(Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

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Quite a few big media outlets including Glamour, The Telegraph and TMZ have fallen for the promotional stunt. For example, here's Vanity Fair's story in 2015 headlined, "Oscars Gift Bag: Take a Peak Inside This Year's $168,000 Bounty."

"Deeply concerned about the confusion Distinctive Assets was spreading, the Academy's legal counsel wrote Distinctive Assets on or about February 17, 2015, to inform it that it 'is critical that no one be confused into believing that your gift bags are associated with or have any connection with the Academy,'" states the suit (read in full here).

The Academy requested that the company's communications communicate that the Academy does not award, sponsor, endorse or provide these gift bags.

It took another couple of weeks -- after more stories, after a Facebook post from the defendant with the hashtag #OscarGiftBag, after a second legal warning -- for Distinctive Assets to reply it "will not purposefully make an association between its gift bags and AMPAS going forward."

Now, it's 2016, and Distinctive Assets is allegedly up to its grab bag of tricks again, only slightly altering its slogan.

See all of the stars at the 2016 Academy Awards luncheon:

40 PHOTOS
Oscars Luncheon 2016
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Academy sues over Oscars gift bag with vapes and vibrators
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the 88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actor Sylvester Stallone attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Alicia Vikander arrives at the 88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Hannah Bagshawe (L) and actor Eddie Redmayne attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Lady Gaga arrives at the 88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Rachel McAdams arrives at the 88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actress Jennifer Jason Leigh attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer/songwriter Sam Smith attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Brie Larson arrives at the 88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Jacob Tremblay arrives at the 88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actress Saoirse Ronan attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actress Rooney Mara attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actress Charlotte Rampling attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actor Matt Damon attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Producer Tom Yellin (L) and director Matthew Heineman attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Recording artist The Weeknd attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Set Decorator Michael Standish attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Director/producer Basil Khalil (L) and producer Eric Dupont attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Sound designer Martin Hernandez, and sound re-recording mixers Jon Taylor and Frank A. Montano attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Producers Amy Hobby (L) and Jayson Jackson attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Composer Stephan Moccio attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Producers Kristie Macosko Krieger (L) and Marc Platt attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Sound editor Alan Robert Murray attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Costume designer Paco Delgado attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Producer Finola Dwyer attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson (L) and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Sound engineer Paul Massey attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer-songwriter Sam Smith (L) and songwriter Jimmy Napes attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Costume designer Sandy Powell attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Screenwriter Andrea Berloff attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Cinematographer Ed Lachman attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Director/screenwriter Konstantin Bronzit attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Songwriter Diane Warren attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Make-up designer Eva Von Bahr (L) and prosthetic make-up designer Love Larsonattends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Filmmakers Dee Hibbert-Jones (L) and Nomi Talisman attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
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"But Distinctive Assets' new tagline is hardly the only means it is now using to advance theidea that it is connected to the Academy and the Oscars," adds the lawsuit. "On or about February 5, 2016, Distinctive Assets used the Academy's OSCARS trademark on its social media Twitter account to describe its gift bag and posted a link to an article [at the Daily Beast] about the bags titled "Inside the Absurd $200K Oscar Gift Bag: Vapes, a Trip To Israel, and a Vampire Breast Lift."

The Academy says no disclaimers were used, and that a wave of articles about Oscar gift bags followed (including by The Hollywood Reporter). "The media coverage reveals that Distinctive Assets appears to be taking no steps to stop wrongfully implying a relationship with the Academy," complains the plaintiff.

The coverage is too much for the Academy Awards.

"Distinctive Assets' continued use of the Academy's trademarks not only infringes the Academy's trademarks, but it is also likely to dilute the distinctiveness of the Academy's famous trademarks and tarnish their goodwill," states the complaint. "Press about the 2016 gift bags has focused on both the less-than-wholesome nature of some of the products contained in the bags, which purportedly include a $250 marijuana vaporizer, a $1,900 "vampire breast lift," skin treatments by Park Avenue plastic surgeons valued at more than $5,500, a $250 sex toy, and $275 Swiss-made toilet paper, and the unseemliness of giving such high value gifts, including trips costing tens of thousands of dollars, to an elite group of celebrities."

The Academy, represented by attorneys at Quinn Emanuel, is now seeking an injunction and trebled profits and damages. Distinctive Assets couldn't immediately be reached for comment.


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