Samsung sign spins out good, bad reactions

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Samsung sign spins out good, bad reactions

When "Spider-man," the movie version of the popular comic book, opened in Korea last week, many people were very happy. In fact, one of Korea's biggest conglomerates was extremely happy.

While moviegoers were enchanted by the gravity-defying acrobatics of Spider-man (played by Tobey Maguire) on New York's skyscrapers, Korean businessmen with blue Samsung pins on their suit lapels cheered aloud -- at least three times.

What's the deal? Long before "Spider-Man" was released, its producer, Columbia Pictures, prepared trailers to publicize it. In those previews it digitally replaced the Samsung logo on a giant billboard in Times Square with the USA Today logo. The billboard, which is 14 meters by 12 meters, is on the Sherwood building.

That manipulation of the "reality" of Times Square triggered a lawsuit. But the issue was not taken up by Samsung; the owners of the Sherwood filed suit. On April 9 they told a court that Columbia Pictures, which is owned by Sony, had "distorted" the already-existing image of their building, which is a famous landmark.

In response, before the movie was released, Columbia restored the Samsung image on the Sherwood billboard in the three scenes it appears in the movie.

But the Sherwood is going forward with the suit, and has retained a law firm, Duane Morris, to handle the case. A lawyer at the firm, Greg Gulia, told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition, "The action by Columbia stands as unfair competition and dilution of trademark."

The Sherwood is also suing over a TV commercial, shown in the United States, which also uses an altered image for the same billboard. Mr. Gulia did not say how much the Sherwood people are suing for. Columbia Pictures refused to comment.

A public relations manager at Samsung, James Chung, is quite glad about how things turned out. "Even if the shot is very short, it's a big deal to the company and its image, especially in a blockbuster like 'Spider-man," he said. In fact, Mr. Chung and some of his colleagues are in New York City right now, in talks aimed at renting more high-profile billboard space. No doubt they'll welcome any superheroes to fly by -- anytime.

by Inēs Cho

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