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Update: Florida A&M Suing Reality Kings

from www.tallahassee.com – It’s been nearly two weeks since Florida A&M officials learned that the university’s name was being used in an illicit sex video complete with student “actors” who depicted a dorm room on campus.

FAMU trustees unanimously agreed Tuesday to sue the owner of the online company, Reality Kings, that posted videos that were promoted as scenes from different colleges. FAMU attorney Avery McKnight said the university will “defend the business reputation of FAMU as a premier institution of higher education.”

In the suit, FAMU said that Reality Kings didn’t receive permission to depict and use FAMU marks and color schemes. It also names to the suit the eight performers, listed as John Does, who received $10,000 to perform in “BigRattler77.”

The “BigRattler77” video is likely to deceive, confuse and mislead prospective purchasers and viewers of the video into believing that the video was produced, authorized or is in some manner associated with FAMU, according to the suit.

Attorney Rick Mitchell, with Orlando’s Gray-Robinson law firm, said it would cost about $50,000 to defend the university.

The case would be considered a “landmark case,” Mitchell said, due to the likely defenses of artistic expression and freedom of speech. However, there were “repeated references” to FAMU in the video.

“Then you tie that to the title of the video — Big Rattler 77. It’s clear that this was an intentional effort to trade on your good name,” Mitchell said. “You have a duty to protect your trademark rights.”

Representatives of Reality Kings did not return phone calls.

Attorney Lawrence Walters [pictured], who represents the owner of the Web site, said he and his client are surprised by the decision by FAMU to file a lawsuit. The video was taken off of the Web site.

“We’re certainly willing to discuss any concerns” FAMU officials have, attorney Lawrence Walters said.

He added he and his client confirmed the video was not made at FAMU.

FAMU trustees are also asking the court to enter preliminary and permanent injunctions restraining Reality Kings from further distributing the video online and on DVD. FAMU also is asking for attorneys fees.

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