A lawsuit filed in federal court by the small silly-gift company Cell-R-Derm alleges that they are.
And judging by the tapes, Cell-R-Derm looks to have a pretty good case.
Cell-R-Derm makes a "cellular abuse aid" gift that consists of "patches" that will jokingly wean one off of incessant cell phone use. It's one of those cheesy gifts people give at white-elephant parties and goofy co-worker birthdays.
"The Microsoft Commercials copy both the sequence of events and the character interplay found in the Cellrderm Commercials," the lawsuit says. "The Microsoft Commercials also copy other copyrightable expression, including but not limited to clothing, gestures, character appearance, camera angles, and other visual elements from the Cellrderm Commercials."
So let's have a look.
Here are the WP7 commercials.
Now here are the two Cell-R-Derm commercials, which came out months prior to the WP7 ones.
Obviously the WP7 commercials had a much larger budget to work with. But there's no doubt that the commercials are similar.
Plus, the fact that not one but two WP7 commercials copied the same concept and several of the same shots as the Cell-R-Derm bits adds some serious credence to the gag company's argument.
Interesting also is that the ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky is based out of Miami, very near to where Cell-R-Derm is located in Boca Raton, Fla.
Calls to Microsoft and Crispin Porter seeking comment were not returned.
An attorney representing Cell-R-Derm, meanwhile, was happy to talk. "The fact that you see two of our ads copied into these Microsoft ads just heightens our concerns," says attorney David Harper. "One commercial copied might be a coincidence, but two isn't. We're just looking for our client's intellectual property rights to be respected."