With just two episodes left in AMC’s hit series Better Call Saul, the network and producer Sony Pictures Television have been slapped with a lawsuit. Filed today in Southern District of New York, Liberty Tax Service has filed a suit alleging “trade dress infringement, dilution, defamation, disparagement, and injurious falsehoods.” The suit stems entirely from episodes 6.01 and 6.02 of the sixth and final season of the series when fan-favorite returning characters Craig and Betsy Kettleman returned to the show and were revealed to be running a tax preparation business called Sweet Liberty Tax Services. As is revealed in the episode though, the Kettlemans aren’t particiing their business ethically and Liberty Tax Service (the real one) has a problem with that.
Liberty Tax Service has been in operation since 1997 and has over 2,500 tax preparation service centers across North America, with over 21,000 tax professionals according to the suit. According to the suit: “Defendants’ misuse of Liberty Tax’s Trademarks and Trade Dress in Episode 2 has resulted in, is resulting in, and will continue to result in harm to Liberty Tax, including without limitation damage to Liberty Tax’s reputation and goodwill symbolized by Liberty Tax’s Trademarks and Trade Dress as well as monetary losses and damages.”
It seems hard to imagine anyone assuming that a real tax business would be affiliated by the portrayal of what the Kettlemans are doing in Better Call Saul, but the Liberty Tax might have a case considering how close the business in the series appears to their actual business locations. As noted in the suit, “The exterior of the ‘Sweet Liberty Tax Services’ location is also depicted using distinctive elements of Liberty Tax’s Trade Dress, including a red, white, and blue flag motif and Statute of Liberty design.” Granted, those are also American flag motifs which perhaps gives Better Call Saul some leeway.
“As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ conduct, Liberty Tax suffered actual and other damages in an amount to be proven at trial,” the suit says in its final pages. “Defendants’ conduct was willful, malicious, intentional, wanton and/or reckless, thereby entitling Liberty Tax to an award of punitive damages.”
Liberty Tax Service is suing for Compensatory damages, Punitive damages, Attorneys’ fees and costs, and other “further relief which the Court deems just and proper.” AMC and Sony Pictures did not have a comment when asked by TheWrap. Check back here for more updates on the lawsuit as we learn them.