As reported by MacMinute:
'Apple sued over 1984 commercial'
"The copyright holder of George Orwell's classic novel '1984' may sue over the video that used Apple's Macintosh advertisement to jab at Senator Hillary Clinton, a lawyer for Rosenblum Productions has said," reports PC Advisor. "And she revealed that Apple was also served notice about using Orwellian imagery 23 years ago. 'We're not filing [a lawsuit] at this point; we're monitoring the situation,' said William Coulson, who represents Rosenblum Productions. 'But we certainly reserve the right to do so in the future,' Coulson did not specify whom Rosenblum might sue - the video's creator, YouTube Inc. or both," notes the report.
This is one of the most baseless suits I think I have ever seen.
This commercial only makes a reference to year 1984 as an Orwellian pop culture term. It certainly would fall under the protections of the Lanham Act afforded to Apple. And technically the poster/creator of the Barack Obama Ad should be protected for political speech too:
Directly as stated on The Cornell Law Website:
The Lanham Act defines the statutory and common law boundaries to trademarks and service marks. Trademarks (and service marks) are words or designs used in the advertising of goods and services. Rights to use a trademark are defined by the class(es) for which the trademark is used. Therefore, it is possible for different parties to use the same trademark in different classes. The Lanham Act defines the scope of a trademark, the process by which a federal registration can be obtained from the Patent and Trademark Office for a trademark, and penalties for trademark infringement.
The following shall not be actionable under this section:
(A) Fair use of a famous mark by another person in comparative commercial advertising or promotion to identify the competing goods or services of the owner of the famous mark.
(B) Noncommercial use of a mark.
(C) All forms of news reporting and news commentary.
This also goes to show in a karma kind of way - that nothing good comes from mixing politics with tech.
* Thanks to blogdog for giving me the heads up on this one