Toyota Threatens Another Studio with Legal Action Over Models Name

AUSTIN, Texas - Representatives for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. have issued Infinity Studios, owner of Mystique Magazine, a formal demand requesting they cease using Alexus in the identification and marketing of any and all Alexus Winston videos and photo sets.

"As a result of the extensive advertising and sales of Lexus automobiles and the high quality of these products, the mark Lexus has become singularly associated with Toyota and enjoys widespread public recognition as a symbol of the highest quality products," Toyota legal representative Eric T. Fingerhut stated in a letter to Infinity Studios co-founder Kevin King. "It has come to Toyota's attention that Infinity Studios, through Mystique Magazine, produced and is distributing adult videos and photograph sets featuring an actress using the stage name Alexus Winston."

The auto giant added the commercial usage of Alexus in connection with the adult content on the videos and photo sets "dilutes the distinctive qualities of the famous mark Lexus in violation of the Federal Trademark Act."

King responded to Toyota in kind stating "We reject in their entirety your claims that the name of an actress featured in Mystique Magazine, "Alexus Winston," violates your trademarks for the term "Lexus," nor does it even remotely impair Toyota's reputation or value of the Lexus mark."

King went on to tell AVN Online that he felt the claims were completely ridiculous and without merit.

"It actually ticked me off initially then made me laugh at how ridiculous it is," King said. "Coincidentally, I had personally planned on buying a Lexus next year and now I will never even buy a Toyota product. If I was a Toyota shareholder, I would be appalled at the utter waste of money spent on legal fees for frivolous things like this. I can just imagine some lawyer billing Toyota thousands of dollars to send out letters like these."

According to Fingerhut, the use of Alexus "injures Toyota's business reputation by impairing the value of the Lexus mark as a singular identification" and as a result constitutes a form of unfair competition.

"This type of bullying could have a huge negative impact and start a trend," King added. "They could really intimidate a solo model to the point they might scare her out of the business or cause her to change a name she's spent a lot of time and money building a following around."

Toyota further demanded a response, adding that if they did not receive a letter stating the company's intentions to comply with Toyota's demands, they may have no choice but to take legal action.

Ultimately Infinity Studios decided to modify the models name on the Mystique Magazine website to Alex Winston in an effort to prevent the expenditure of anymore time and resources.

"Toyota has lots of time and money to spend on pursuing something like this if they so desire," King elaborated. "I think we would win if it came to a lawsuit or arbitration, but it's not worth the time and possibly tens of thousands we'd have to spend to defend Mystique Magazine. Therefore the big bad wolf wins. We did give in to a degree, but sometimes the fight is not worth fighting."

Fortunately for King, his operation is automated and it didn't take long to make the changes.

"Our biggest loss will be any search engine value we were receiving from folks looking for Alexus Winston," King added.

This is not the first time Toyota threatened legal action against a model with a name similar to their famous brand. The Japanese automaker made model Lea Lexus change her name in February of this year and filed suit against adult film starlet Lexus Cash in June 2007. Soon thereafter, Toyota turned its sights to gay porn actor Lexus. According to reports, Toyota's same lawyers in Washington, D.C. sent a cease-and-desist letter to EBoys Studios in Switzerland.

Legal representatives for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. did not contact AVN Online for comment by posting time.