“Drunk TED Talks” Gets Cease-and-Desist from TED Talks

  • Trademark Clearance
“Drunk TED Talks” Gets Cease-and-Desist from TED Talks

Many of you have probably heard of TED Talks (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design). Operating under the slogan “ideas worth spreading,” TED is a non-profit organization that started as a conference and then expanded into talks on science, culture, and academic topics. Some of the most popular TED Talks are “Why We Do What We Do” by Tony Robbins, “How to Spot a Liar” by Pamela Meyer, and “How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes” by David Blaine.

Then along came Drunk TED Talks, a series of performances held in Brooklyn, New York, that are described on its Facebook page as “The world’s premiere source of drunk knowledge since 2013. Be funny, be weird, be smart.” Some of the Drunk TED Talks (described by Jezebel as “overwrought presentations on underwrought topics”) have been called “Extremely Hot and Incredibly Sad: How the Triangle Shirtwaist Disaster Fanned the Flames of the Workers’ Rights Movement” and “Quit Playing Grocery Games With My Heart: The Passion of Guy Fieri.” We should note that the “About” section on its Facebook page contains this: “(Not affiliated with TED, thankfully.)”

An attorney for TED Talks sent the producer and host of Drunk TED Talks, Eric Thurm, a note that read: “You’re drunk; please stop texting our friends.” The letter went on to warn that Drunk TED Talks’ “continued use of its trademarks and trade dress may cause the public to inaccurately assume that your events are connected to, associated with, or affiliated with TED and its well-known services relating to educational conferences, workshops, and seminars.”Thurm, in a phone call with Jezebel, said he thinks his invention is parody and protected speech, but because of the time and money required to fight back he has to change the name, remarking: “I’ve been doing this for a really long time and kind of figured that they had a sense of humor about it and weren’t going to do it before now, then why would they take action all of a sudden?”

The last show, “Drunk T̶e̶d̶ Talks: Patriarchy” happened this week and Thurm is in search of a new name for the events. Any ideas?