Remember in high school when there were the geeks? And then there were the jocks? But never the twain shall meet, unless one was getting his ass kicked by the other?
Well, things have changed. The nerds are the cool kids now, and quite a few them are sports-minded. Enter the website Cosby's Sweaters, dedicated to “sports fans who love music, tech, pop culture and dumb Internet videos” and named for Bill Cosby's colorful knits on The Cosby Show.
Turns out that the original black nerd, Cosby, is the bully kicking sand in the face of his admirers.
His attorney sent a threatening letter to Cosby's Sweaters, co-founded by USC alum and Santa Monica resident Kiley Kmiec.
That prompted the site to change its name to the much-less enticing Next Impulse Sports.
The site published an excerpt of the letter, which seems to plant an intellectual property flag squarely on a stack of those '80s sweaters:
… The multi-colored, multi-patterned sweaters that Mr. Cosby wore on “The Cosby Show,” an iconic television program that aired from 1984 through 1992 and has continued in broadcast as reruns and in syndication both domestically and internationally through the present, are strongly associated with Cosby. The term “Cosby Sweater” instantly evokes Mr. Cosby and The Cosby Show.
The site could have argued “fair use” — that Cosby is a public figure subject to comment and criticism; that the name isn't a ripoff but rather a fair reflection that leads nowhere near the commerce of the Cosby industry.
Kmiec says he could have held fast, but if this ended up in court it would have been expensive:
We think we could fight this case in court. Unfortunately though, we don't have the millions of Puddin' Pops™ to mount what could be a long and costly legal fight. The bottom line is this: It got hot and we have ditched the Cosby Sweaters name. We've got bigger and better match-ups to focus on.
So long, Cosby's Sweaters.
[Added at 4:42 p.m.]: We got in touch with site co-founder Kmiec, who said that Cosby's lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter, threatened a civil suit that would seek damages, and gave the website five days to stop being Cosby's Sweaters.
He said the site decided to make the change to the new domain about a week and a half ago and that it's almost all wrapped up now.
Unfortunately, the switch to a less catchy brand has meant a 50 percent drop in traffic, not counting a bump from news sites linking to the Next Impulse Sports story about the episode, he said.
“It's unfortunate,” Kmiec said. “We didn't have the funds to stand up and play a game of chicken.”
He said the site still owns the cosbyssweaters.com domain name and that “I'd be happy as hell to sell it back to Bill for $10 million.”