One of my friends (likebunnies) got a C&D from the MPAA saying that they own the rights to NC-17 and RATED NC-17, and that she has to cease from using same. I haven't seen the actual letter yet, but she's posted about it on her LJ.
While MPAA has a registration for NC-17 as a design mark, they (a) don't disclaim "NC-17" from the mark as a whole, and they (b) don't have a registration for it as a separate typed mark. As I understand it, she wasn't using the design formative at all. And the registration for the design mark covers only "entertainment services rendered through the medium of motion pictures", and she's not using it for vids, only for fics, as I understand it.
Yes, of course the MPAA can protect their rights in and to the mark for motion pictures, but am I right in thinking that (a) there is a descriptive element that has built up over time due to nonenforcement of this mark for things other than motion pictures, (b) the "famous mark" cases, including Ringling, aren't a help to the MPAA if they're claiming diluiton, (c) fanfiction is sufficiently far afield from motion pictures, especially when said fanfic is based on a book series, and (d) it would be pretty hard (and kind of amusing) to tarnish the mark "NC-17"?
I can see a few arguments on the MPAA's side, as well, but given that she's not really using it as advertising or in marketing, and that she's most likely using it in a descriptive sense, does anyone else think the MPAA is overreaching, just a little bit?
ETA: Here's the "other data" from the MPAA's registration for NC-17 & Design:
THE CERTIFICATION MARK, AS USED BY PERSONS AUTHORIZED BY CERTIFIER, CERTIFIES THAT, IN THE OPINION OF APPLICANT'S RATING OR APPEALS BOARDS, MOST AMERICAN PARENTS WILL CONSIDER THE MOTION PICTURE INAPPROPRIATE FOR VIEWING BY ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18, BY REASON OF ITS DEPICTION OR TREATMENT OF VIOLENCE OR SEX OR ABERRATIONAL BEHAVIOR OR DRUG ABUSE, OR A COMBINATION OF THESE OR OTHER ELEMENTS.
Emphasis mine. I think that pretty much sinks any plausible argument they could make, althgough I would still love to see them allege that HP fanfic tarnishes the NC-17 mark.