A Nashville-based comedian is suing entertainment giant NBCUniversal over a phrase he's been using since the 1990s and trademarked in 2004.
Jeffrey Mishler, who takes to the stage and airwaves as Jeff Allen with a Christian and family-friendly act, says one of the main characters on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," a reality show airing on NBCU's Bravo network, has hijacked his signature "Happy Wife, Happy Life" phrase. In his complaint — available here — Mishler says he's been using the phrase for years in his routine and obtained a trademark for it in late 2004.
The complaint says NBCU and Fabulicious LLC, a company run by New Jersey Real Housewife Teresa Giudice, pictured at left, have infringed on that trademark both during the show — where Giudice regularly utters the phrase — and through various marketing and merchandising platforms.
In addition to his trademark claim, Mishler says Giudice's use of "Happy Wife, Happy Life" is harming his standing in the comedy community and may confuse consumers about the origin of the phrase. On top of that, there's the lifestyle gap between the two entertainers.
"The defendants' goods and services are in conflict with the image Mishler associates with his comedy and his products," the suit says. "Specifically, ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey' depicts a lifestyle and behavior which are considered crude, offensive, and unsavory to a segment of the public, particularly those who seek out Christian and/or family-friendly entertainment, key consumers of Mishler's goods and services."
Mishler is asking for an injunction barring NBCU and Giudice from using "Happy Wife, Happy Life" as well as, among other things, reimbursing him for his damages and paying three times the profits they've made from using the phrase.
Richard S. Busch of King & Ballow is representing Mishler. An NBCU spokeswoman did not return a message left on Friday.