Manos: The Legal Defense of Fate

$3,285 of $7,000 goal

Raised by 129 people in 1 month
"Manos: The Hands of Fate" fell into the public domain in 1966 due to Hal Warren, the film’s director, not having the film copyrighted, and the freedom of access allowed by the public domain is what eventually enabled it to find an audience. However, Joe Warren, one of Hal’s children, is now seeking to trademark the phrase “Manos: The Hands of Fate” 50 years after the fact for his exclusive use.

"Manos", a low budget horror movie made by locals in El Paso, Texas, was called by Entertainment Weekly the “worst film ever made”. While that claim has always been debatable, there can be no doubt that this tale of a Texan family on a road trip running afoul of a polygamous death cult in the desert has provided a great deal of fertile ground for humor and creative inspiration ever since its release. 

The successful registration of this trademark would threaten the numerous incarnations of "Manos: The Hands of Fate" past and present- particularly the creative works that have come from the movie being in the public domain- with legal liability for trademark infringement.

Not only will the release of the film itself in any form become vulnerable, but projects such as the independent sequel "Manos Returns" the puppet adaptation "Manos: The Hands of Felt", two coloring books, a video game, a memoir, "Growing up With Manos: The Hands Of Fate", two fiction books, multiple stage productions, and a number of creative fan projects, are now in danger.

Joe Warren has attempted, without success, to extract financial payment from numerous parties in the past incorrectly claiming “copyright infringement” on this public domain work. There is no reason to think that he will not continue the same activities if granted a trademark, however questionable it may be. We’ve seen Joe deploy these tactics against the numerous creative uses of the film since its release, and even against the restoration and preservation of the film itself.

This trademark was recently approved for publication. Due to Mr. Warren filing an Intent to Use 1(b) Trademark Application (in other words, he has not shown any use of the mark yet), the typical scrutiny given to a 1(a) Trademark Application (one that shows actual use of the mark in commerce) for a Title of a Single Work is not present. However, the window for an outside party to challenge the mark does not change, and there is no further opportunity for opposition from outside parties after this initial publication period.

An initial Letter of Protest will be filed shortly with the US Patent and Trademark Office- however, due to USPTO rules, it will be necessary to gain an extension to file the Notice of Opposition once the mark is published for opposition at the end of February. We hope the Letter of Protest will be enough to prevent registration, but there is no guarantee that it will be granted and the scope of issues allowed to be addressed by the Letter of Protest are limited. Filing a Notice of Opposition is extremely costly. The total cost of Attorney Fees for the Notice of Opposition, the extension, and all filing fees is estimated to be around $7,000. Additional funds will further help us offset the costs involved.

Simply put, we have one brief chance to fix this problem, and we will need your support in this battle if we want to see it through. Jackey Neyman Jones (child star of the film and daughter of lead actor Tom Neyman) and Benjamin Solovey (producer of the "Manos: The Hands of Fate" restoration) have established a legal fund to cover the filing fees and attorney’s costs to protect the right to access for all. This case will be handled by Ian K. Friedman, Esq., an Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law Attorney who has come to the defense of the film’s public domain status in the past. If you have enjoyed any of the free and legal uses of “Manos: The Hands of Fate” over the years, we hope you’ll help us to protect past, present and future access to the film and title by contributing to it.

Please help spread the word and #KeepManosFree.
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Update 2
Posted by Ben Solovey
21 days ago
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Manos: The Hands of Fate is often taught in film classes as “Everything Not To Do In Filmmaking”. From the camera work, editing, direction, script, acting and nearly everything else, it is one of the most notably inept films in existence and yet it’s certain charm has captured and held a fervent fan base since a public debut on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1993. Something about it keeps bringing people back- often with friends. “Manos” would not be “Manos” if it had not always been in the Public Domain. Frank Conniff would not have gone against better judgement when he chose Manos to be on with Joel and the Bots if it had not been in Public Domain. And without that, it would just have collected dust and faded away like countless other films of all genre and level of skill.

A family member of Hal Warren is attempting to trademark the title “Manos: The Hands of Fate” in order to control how it is used and whose projects are deemed acceptable. Though never successful in copyrighting the film itself, that has not stopped him from issuing Cease and Desists to a number of Manos-inspired projects over the last few years, including Manos: The Hands of Felt, a Manos: The Hands of Fate stage adaptation, the “Manos” Restoration and Jackey Neyman Jones herself for selling shirts bearing her father’s likeness.

This legal defense fund is dedicated to preserving the free use of the film’s title and was created by Jackey Neyman Jones, (Debbie in the film and daughter of lead actor Tom Neyman), and Ben Solovey (restorer of the original film). We are represented by Ian Friedman, Attorney at Law.

Our goal is to stop the trademark from being issued, and we are running out of time to act within the parameters of the Trademark office. The first step, filing a Letter of Protest to the USPTO, was completed on Wednesday February 1st. The Letter of Protest will not stop the clock on the publication process, nor can we guarantee that it will be accepted. Therefore, we must now prepare for the next step: an extension filed in order to give our formal Notice of Opposition the time it needs to be submitted, accepted and applied.

Filing fees and attorney fees alone will run in excess of $7000.00, inclusive of the already-completed Letter of Protest. If money remains in the budget after we have successfully met this legal challenge, it will be used to retain Ian Friedman over a greater period of time, during which he will be able to assist any fan or creator with similar challenges to the free and legal use of “Manos: The Hands of Fate”. As Ian likes to point out, “My daughter turned five in January recently, and I’ve been dealing with (Joe Warren) since before she was born.”

We are honored at how many people have extended their support through sharing, donating and discussion. Please continue to help us spread the word of Manos.

Thank you for your support and #KeepManosFree


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Update 1
Posted by Ben Solovey
27 days ago
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I personally want to thank every single person who identifies with our desire to keep Manos: The Hands of Fate free to inspire. It is only because the film fell into Public Domain 50 years ago that it ever had an opportunity to be rediscovered by exactly the right venue and it is difficult to imagine any other vehicle than MST3k to offer it in a way that captured the horror, fascination and love.

In just a few days, our campaign to protect the rights of everyone to be inspired by and to freely share ideas and projects relating to Manos: The Hands of Fate has gained momentum with the press. Below are links I’ve found so far. It seems the subjects of Copyright and Trademark regarding properties that could only have found their niche and audience through Public Domain has sparked some interest.

The Master Approves,
Jackey Neyman Jones

Our Attorney, Ian Friedman just sent me an update, saying that he is preparing to file the Letter of Protest within the next few days.

This is only the first step so please donate and continue to share. #KeepManosFree

Jan 27 http://www.avclub.com/article/get-involved-internet-keep-mst3k-classic-manos-han-249224

http://www.mst3kinfo.com/?p=23781

http://geeknation.com/jackey-neyman-and-the-legend-of-manos-the-hands-of-fate/

Jan 30
http://franklygreenbay.com/article/view/id/199/Screen/The%20Public%20Domain

http://geeknation.com/son-of-manos-hands-of-fate-director-wants-name-trademarked/

http://www.1201beyond.com/podcasts/lits/episode-263-manos-incident/


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$3,285 of $7,000 goal

Raised by 129 people in 1 month
Created January 26, 2017
NB
$66
Neil Bronner
6 days ago
1
1

The movie was made in '66 so I donated $66. ;)

DS
$100
Derek Singer
9 days ago
1
1
$50
Anonymous
9 days ago
1
1
$20
Jesse Taylor
10 days ago
1
1

Keep Manos in the hands of the people!

JI
$20
Joe Irvin
11 days ago
EH
$25
Emily Hogan
12 days ago
FT
$5
Francois Tremblay
12 days ago
LS
$15
Linda Syed
12 days ago
1
1
GO
$25
Gary Olson
12 days ago
1
1

The Master is not pleased by Joe Warren's actions...

$10
Anonymous
13 days ago
2
2
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