Although reality TV actress Kimberly Kearney filed for rights to the “What Would Jesus Do?” trademark before filmmaker Tyler Perry, that didn’t stop Perry from allegedly stealing it out from under her.
Kearney, best known as “Poprah” during the “I Want to Work for Diddy” reality TV series, filed for the trademark months before Perry’s 2008 filing. She was planning to use the “What Would Jesus Do” mark as part of a reality TV show.
In her application for the trademark, Kearney included images from her website which showed casting calls for the reality show. Still Perry asked that Kearney’s trademark rights be canceled because she had abandoned it and the Trademark Office sided with Perry.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Kearney attempted to prove that she began using the trademark when she “shared her television program and title with Tyler Perry Studios” and that “not many months after sharing this program and soliciting [Perry] for financial support of this program, [Perry] filed to register this mark; consequently, eventually resulting in this cancellation proceeding.”
But since Kearney hadn’t produced a show with the trademark, she lost her case.
“Because [Kearney] did not timely answer [Perry]’s Requests for Admission the facts included are deemed admitted and are ‘conclusively established,'”wrote administrative judges in their decision to cancel Kearney’s trademark. “Despite Respondent’s denials in her answer to [Perry’s] petition, the deemed admissions supersede those denials and we are bound by them.”
The judges also found that there was not enough evidence to support Kearney’s claim that Perry stole the trademark from her and even if there had been, the judges may not have taken it into consideration.