The popular Netflix series Narcos details the life of the notorious Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the Escobar family is not happy about it.

Pablo Escobar’s brother, head of hitmen and former accountant, Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, is the founder of holding company Escobar, Inc. Gaviria is suing Netflix by way of Escobar, Inc. for $1 billion claiming the streaming service used his company’s trademarks, which include “all the trademarks to all of our names and also for the Narcos brand,” without permission. Gaviria stated the series is full of “mistakes, lies and inaccuracies from the real story…It is depicting me, my life, my family and my brother…I think nobody else in the world is alive to determine the validity of the materials, but me.” Gaviria claimed Netflix has been compensated well from the series and from the trademarks.

On August 20, 2016, Gaviria filed use-based applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to register the marks NARCOS and CARTEL WARS. The marks would cover a range of goods and services such as downloadable ring tones, sunglasses, temporary tattoos, etc. Netflix quickly sent a cease and desist letter citing fraudulent rights claims.

Gaviria claims Narcos Productions, LLC (NPL), the company responsible for the hit series, infringed on Escobar Inc.’s trademark rights for the use of NARCOS and CARTEL WARS. Gaviria further claimed his company “used NARCOS in connection with things like ‘operating a website’ and ‘game services provided online from a computer network’ since Jan. 31, 1986.” Jill M. Pietrini, attorney for NPL, was quick to point out “the internet had not been developed for widespread consumer use in 1986, nor was the capability to provide audiovisual works nor game services available at that time.”

Olof Gustafsson, CEO of Escobar Inc., believes Netflix will reconsider negotiations because “[a]t first, they refused to acknowledge us. After we registered all the trademarks and we’ve been granted some of them, they sent us a cease-and-desist letter. After that our attorneys and their attorneys have come to an agreement that basically they need to pay us something. Now it’s a matter of determining how much that something is. At the end of the day, if we don’t take a deal, then we own the trademarks. They would have to rebrand their entire show. They know this. This is why they’re talking to us. Otherwise they would never entertain any discussions with a drug cartel family. “

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter Gaviria stated he would “close their little show” if Netflix did not come to a settlement agreement with him. “A billion is what we used to make in a good week in the 1980s and 1990s,” Gaviria said in 2016. “Apparently money is now growing on trees in favor of Netflix after my show was released. They should pay me immediately.”

Netflix declined to comment on this matter.

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak with one of our patent attorneys please contact us.