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WHAM-O EXECS THINK ‘DICKIE ROBERTS’ IS ALL WET Within hours after “Dickie Roberts” opened in movie theaters earlier this month, executives at Wham-O Inc. were on the phone to their lawyer. The Emeryville-based company wants the movie producers to delete a scene involving its Slip ‘n Slide water toy or at least run a disclaimer at each showing of the film. Wham-O filed a trademark infringement suit against Paramount Corp. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last week. The film is about a 35-year-old former child star, played by David Spade, who hires a foster family to re-create the childhood he never had. In one scene, which was included in a trailer for the movie, he burns his chest when he tries to slide across the Slip ‘n Slide without inflating or wetting it. “To take the mark and use it to promote the film, that’s what’s crossing the line,” said Wham-O attorney Annette Hurst, a partner at Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin. She said the company is also concerned the product could be misused as a result of the film. Slip ‘n Slide was taken off the market in the early 1990s after a man broke his neck diving onto the slide and won a $12 million product liability suit against the toy’s former manufacturer. Wham-O redesigned and reintroduced the product in 1998. Hurst said Wham-O doesn’t want to pull the film from the theaters if Paramount is willing to add a disclaimer. “But if they refuse to do anything,” she said, “we’re going to have to go to the mat on this.” Paramount’s lawyer, Davis Wright Tremaine partner Thomas Burke, directed questions about the suit to his client. A Paramount representative said Wham-O’s claims were “entirely without legal merit.” Other trademark lawyers said it’s not clear whether Wham-O can make a case for infringement. “It would be hard to prove that the viewer would believe [Wham-O] sponsored or was affiliated with the movie,” said Margaret McHugh, a partner at Townsend and Townsend and Crew. “I see it more as a disparagement case.” Fenwick & West partner Sally Abel said it could be problematic to use a trademark in a movie if the mark is portrayed “in a way that’s unsavory, unsafe or has negative connotations.” However, she said Wham-O “may not be expecting to prevail on the trademark claim but to protect itself from liability in personal injury cases.” — Brenda Sandburg SURF’S UP � WAY UP It wasn’t a secret deal or client development that brought Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton attorney Steven Miller to the French Alps last week. Miller traveled to Europe so that he could jump out of airplanes at 13,000 feet with a video camera strapped to his head. The finance and bankruptcy attorney from Sheppard, Mullin’s Los Angeles office represented the United States in the World Championship of Skydiving. Miller’s event, dubbed skysurfing, involves a two-person team. Teammate Kathee Johnson leaps out of a plane with a snowboard-like device (a “skyboard”) strapped to her feet and performs a series of flips, spins and other maneuvers. Miller freefalls alongside Johnson, flying around her in order to capture the optimal video footage of her stunts. A panel of judges later reviews each team’s video footage and selects a winner based on difficulty, presentation and execution. While Miller’s performance in the competition was still unknown at press time, Sheppard, Mullin’s L.A. lawyers stood squarely behind their thrill-seeking colleague. Several Sheppard, Mullin attorneys have even gone skydiving with Miller in the past, trekking out to Lake Elsinore, where Miller regularly practices and maintains a second home. For a while, the skydiving expedition was offered as an event for summer associates. Colleagues describe Miller as a mild-mannered fellow, notwithstanding his penchant for jumping from very high places. Office legend has it that while practicing at White & Case several years ago, Miller sometimes parachuted off the top of Los Angeles’ famed, 73-story Library Tower early on Saturday mornings. He apparently was in tight with the security guards and they turned a blind eye, explains Sheppard, Mullin partner Anthony Callobre. “Steve’s a little nutty that way,” adds Callobre, “but a nice guy.” — Alexei Oreskovic

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