'American Idol' sues Texas strip joint

January 14, 2009 7:36:30 AM PST
"American Idol" wants a Texas strip club to take it off. FremantleMedia North America, which owns the popular TV show, has sued in federal court to stop the weekly "Stripper Idol" contest at Palazio Men's Club in Austin. The company also wants to seize Palazio's profits from the amateur stripping contest.

In its lawsuit, FremantleMedia calls "Stripper Idol" a trademark violation that could mislead the public to believe that the TV show sponsors the event, The Dallas Morning News reported in Tuesday editions.

Advertisements for the stripping contest use a logo with a "color scheme, design and font" similar to that of the TV show. Waitresses at the club wear T-shirts emblazoned with the logo, according to the lawsuit.

"Defendants are infringing upon FremantleMedia's trademark rights," the lawsuit alleges. "There is a substantial likelihood that consumers will be confused, misled or deceived as to the sponsorship ... of the defendants' stripper talent contest."

Palazio managers initially thought the lawsuit was a joke. But they don't plan to end the Thursday night strip-off.

The club's managers say their contest doesn't resemble the TV show. In "Stripper Idol," the women have 60 seconds to dance topless, then are ranked by audience applause to win $500.

FremantleMedia can't claim the word "idol," said "Kinky" Kelly Jones, a club manager and the show's host.

"It's shocking. We're just a local company, it's not like we're some big threat," said club operations manager Scott Stevenson.

The contest is in its 12th week and has a growing popularity, club managers said.