Indiana Jones’ latest film hit the big screens on June 30, 2023, and less than a month later, small American outdoor company Frost River filed a lawsuit against both Lucasfilm and its competitor brand Filson — over Indy’s backpack.
The pack, which Frost River recognized immediately as one of its own, was featured in the new film “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” without permission, the brand’s lawyers claim. The filmmakers allegedly removed identifying marks on the bag for the film, violating federal trademark law, and produced an advertisement that disingenuously passed the pack off as one of Filson’s.
“This lawsuit concerns two corporate juggernauts, Filson and Lucasfilm, exploiting the hard work and intellectual property of Frost River, a small American company,” stated the complaint.
The Frost River Geologist Pack on an Archeologist’s Back
Throughout the film, Indy carries a waxed canvas knapsack, with leather straps and brass buckles. That bag is the Frost River Geologist Pack. It was designed after the rucksack used by renowned geologist James Byron Hustad. Hustad explored Minnesota’s Iron Range by float plane and canoe, in search of deposits for U.S. Steel. It’s a classic-looking bag, with a distinctly vintage adventurer feel.
So, Frost River claims, when it recognized the Geologist Pack in the new Indy movie, allegedly with all of its brand-identifying markings removed, alarm bells went off. Removing identifying marks from a product that is then prominently featured in a film violates the Lanham Act, a federal trademark law.
In its filing, Frost River claims Lucasfilm also authorized Filson to run a co-branded marketing campaign. The minute-long ad promoted both the film and Filson’s products — as well as Frost River’s unmarked Geologist Pack.
“Lucasfilm and Filson produced a 60-second commercial prominently featuring video clips from the Indiana Jones 5 film intertwined with video clips of actors using Filson’s own products,” Devin McRae, a lawyer for Minnesota brand, wrote in the complaint. “Shockingly, one of the intertwined video clips was one from Indiana Jones 5 featuring Frost River’s Geologist Pack.”
According to the brand and its lawyers, that is intentionally misleading consumers to believe that that pack is made by Filson.
Neither Lucasfilm nor Filson have offered comment on this lawsuit.