Jeff Dunham Thursday sued a Los Angeles T-shirt company and its owner for allegedly attempting to profit from the coronavirus pandemic by selling masks and T-shirts featuring the ventriloquist-comedian’s signature characters.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, alleges that Raymond Lei and his company Ooshirts are marketing, among other items, “overpriced face masks that display a counterfeited image” of Dunham’s crotchety alter-ego Walter wearing a blue hospital mask.
A message sent to Ooshirts was not immediately answered.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges, Lei is using Dunham’s likeness to draw customers to Ooshirts’ website, “which has caused significant consumer confusion and led fans (of Dunham) to ask him whether he was improperly trying to profit off of the COVID-19 pandemic by selling these COVID-19 products,” according to the suit.
“This confusion has caused, and continues to cause, great harm to plaintiff’s reputation and brand,” the lawsuit contends.
Plaintiffs allege that Lei has listed more than 1,0000 infringing products for sale — including T-shirts, sweatshirts, blankets, mugs and other consumer products — that feature Dunham’s characters, including Achmed, Bubba J, Peanut and Jose Jalapeno on a Stick.
“Defendants have even set up a separate section of one of their websites” for all of their Jeff Dunham-related products, according to the complaint for copyright infringement.
The suit seeks “substantial” compensatory, punitive and statutory damages along the lines of the $10 million that attorneys contend Dunham has lost due to the alleged infringement.