Chubby Checker Suing Over “The Chubby Checker”

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Chubby Checker, a.k.a. Ernest Evans, a.k.a. the guy who sang "The Twist," is suing the makers and sellers of a smartphone app for Palm devices known as "The Chubby Checker" for trademark infringement. While possibly the most dramatic revelation resulting from this story is that both Chubby Checker and Palm, Inc., are still alive, the real legal-humor selling point is why Chubby Checker is so eager to distance himself from "The Chubby Checker": the latter purports to check the size of a man's chubby.

A slang term that shall remain undefined here.

However the app purports to do this, it would be stupid, but according to the report it has something to do with shoe size. Of course the fact that this correlates with chubby size in any way is a myth, as it is a complete coincidence that my feet are size 14s. But Checker is less concerned about the app's functionality than about the fact that it may confuse consumers into thinking that he has endorsed this app. He has not.

"This lawsuit is about preserving the integrity and legacy of a man who has spent years working hard at his musical craft and has earned the position of one of the greatest musical entertainers of all time," the singer's attorney said in a statement that, remarkably, is partly true. "We cannot sit idly [by] and watch," he continued, "as technology giants or anyone else exploits the name or likeness of an innocent person with the goal of making millions of dollars [as long as that person is paying our fees, he did not add]. The defendants have marketed Chubby Checkers' name on their product to gain a profit and this just isn't right."

According to this report, until now the app has been downloaded a total of 84 times in the two years it has been available, gaining a profit of $83.16. Treble damages are available, though.

As for the goal of suppressing any association between Chubby Checker and "The Chubby Checker," one can and does question whether filing a lawsuit sure to be widely publicized is a good way to further that goal. See generally "Streisand Effect," (last updated Feb. 13, 2013; last checked just now).

UPDATE: Apparently it is not quite true to say that there is no correlation at all, according to a 1993 study entitled "The relationships among height, penile length, and foot size." The study did find a correlation, but it was so weak that the researchers concluded these factors "would not serve as practical estimators of penis length." Appropriately, these intrepid scientists received the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize for Statistics.