LeVar Burton Can Finally Use His ‘Reading Rainbow’ Catchphrase
Back in early August, PBS affiliate WNED filed a lawsuit against LeVar Burton and his RRKidz digital reading company for “theft and extortion” of the Reading Rainbow brand, including the use of Burton’s catchphrase on the show, “You don’t have to take my word for it,” which WNED technically owns. But it sounds like things have all been worked out a few months later, as Burton has been cleared to say the phrase after confidential negotiations with WNED.
When Vulture asked Burton at an event for the audible version of Andy Weir’s new book Artemis whether he had come to an agreement with the company, Burton said, “It’s all good. It’s all good. I can say it.”
WNES took issue with Burton saying the phrase on his podcast LeVar Burton Reads, as well as calling the show a “Reading Rainbow for adults.” According to legal documents filed in the state of New York, the suit was cleared on August 28, and WNED dropped their charges.
The full story is a little complicated, but basically, in 2011 Burton and WNED partnered up to try to revive the Reading Rainbow show through a combination of digital development that Burton would be in charge of through his RRKidz brand, and WNED working to get the show back on TV. But Burton crossed a line with the company when he launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a revival of the show, leading to secret negotiations with Netflix without the involvement of WNED. WNED restricted RRKidz’s license, whereupon RRKidz sued WNED.
RRKidz now goes by LeVar Burton Kids and is no longer affiliated with the Reading Rainbow brand, which made his use of the catchphrase irksome to the company for whom he had been, but no longer was, a brand ambassador. The details of their settlement are confidential, so I guess we’ll just have to take their word for it.
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