In response, The Weinstein Company issued a statement from Boies that said, “The suggestion that there is a danger of confusion between The Weinstein Co.’s 2013 feature movie and a 1917 [sic] short that has not been shown in theaters, television, DVDs, or in any other way for almost a century makes no sense. The award has no purpose except to restrict competition and is contrary to public policy.”
“The Butler” tells the story of a black servant who works in the White House for several decades. The all-star cast includes John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon Johnson, and Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan.
While the titles of works of art cannot be copyrighted (nor, in general, trademarked), the MPAA maintains the Title Registration Bureau, which is a voluntary central registration entity for titles of movies intended for U.S. theatrical distribution to prevent public confusion over films with similar titles. In order to register titles, companies subscribe to the registry and are bound by the bureau’s rules, which prescribe procedures for registering titles and handling any related disputes.
“The Butler” is slated for an August 16 release.