Virgin Air files suit against Steve Hall and his blog adrants.


Virgin Air files suit against Steve Hall and his blog adrants.


I have lost yet another bet. See, I thought for sure that the first lawsuit to be heard in front of a jury involving blogs & big corporations would be a photo distribution company against one of the millions of blogs that post images without permission. C&D orders have been flying around the web in cases like that for as long as I can remember but no trial by jury yet.

So imagine my surprise when this "proper" suit filed is about an advertising parody on Adrants - one depicting Flight 1549 stranded in the Hudson with the smirky tag that one should try flying Virgin Air instead. This parody is very much on tone of the actual Virgin Air campaign, but Virgin didn't like it one bit. has a scanned iPaper for those who would like to read it - but don't bother emailing Adrants about it because the first thing a lawyer tells you is to keep mum and Steve ain't no fool. The suit names Adrants, Steve, Angela and Nina as defendants, was filed January 26 in San Francisco and hangs its pin on "trademark infringement" which spells.... well, it'll be interesting to see what they can do about a parody. They also claim deceptive advertising, and defamation, but I doubt they can prove they suffered economic damages.

Virgin America filed a lawsuit against the advertising blog yesterday over a fake ad the site posted on the day Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River. The spoof (left), which appeared below the headline "The Hudson Crash: Just One More Reason to Fly Virgin," was later updated to make it clear the ad was a parody. (It was eventually removed from the site entirely, although you'll find a cached version here.)

Adrants' post read from the start:
"We've seen Virgin turn ugly situations to its advantage before, making it very much in keeping with the Virgin brand persona. The only thing saving the tribute from being in terrifically bad taste is the fact that no one lost his or her life in the crash. So woot! - slather your big reds all over those news shots, V."

Later, Adrants made this update, just to make sure we all knew:
"UPDATE: Clearly, this ad is fake. A spoof. Virgin America has confirmed this. We were always suspect from he get go and didn't mean to mislead or misrepresent. So we'll clearly state now: the ad is a spoof. It's not real. Virgin America had nothing to do with its creation."


Thanks for your commentary Åsk. Yes, will be interesting indeed. We're rooting for you Steve, Angela and Nina....

Sincerely -- Roger D.

Do you think they have a (winnable) case? That could have a wet towel effect on quite a few blogs.

If the courts starting slapping people down for parody, we've all got big trouble. From what I recall, parody has been a hallmark of trademark law since dinosaurs walked the earth. Unless they're trying to say it looked too much like an actual Virgin ad, which seems ridiculous, now that so many people have said they recognized it as a parody.

The suit claims: "the post had an express assertion by Co-Editor Angela Natividad about the apparent validity of the advertisment"

But reading the cached link now I see:

We got the print near 6pm EST. And while its origins are suspect -- having come from a "Nina Aldredge" at Gmail* -- we've seen Virgin turn ugly situations to its advantage before, making it very much in keeping with the Virgin brand persona.

Now I'm really curious to how Angela described the ad when Virgin saw it.

This is what happens when C&D orders have "been flying around the web" like a snowstorm blizzard for years. Nobody takes a C&D seriously anymore, if they ever did.

And too many fake ads have been sent around by people thinking that they were real which has damaged companies carefully designed reputations. Remember the VW sucide bomber ad? Virgin is just nipping this in the bud fast by chopping down the biggest poppy they see. It will never go to court and Virgin knows it In a few weeks the case will be dropped but the point is still made: Virgin did not make that ad.

Ah, good point. When the patient has grown immune to the C&D, get the big guns to create the same effect (or at least get all press talking about that ad being fake!). See, that's why I thought a photographer-vs-blogger case would be the first because that could be winnable, while here I honestly don't see it. It's more of a defamation claim than anything else and I still don't see how they can make stick.

Exactly. Does it strike anyone else as very out of tune with the brand Virgin to do this? Virgin are punk underdogs, or at least they were.

That's just what we need, instead of frivolous cease and desists, we now have frivolous filed suits against bloggers.

Add new comment