LeVar Burton Sued for Using His Reading Rainbow Catchphrase on His Podcast

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Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Reading Rainbow taught a generation of kids that they could (a) go twice as high as a butterfly, (b) go anywhere, and (c) be anything. Unfortunately, if you chose to be “LeVar Burton using his classic Reading Rainbow catchphrase,” the place you will go might be court. According to The Hollywood Reporter, WNED-TV Buffalo, New York, is suing the children’s show host in part over his continued use of the tagline “But you don’t have to take my word for it” on his podcast LeVar Burton Reads. The suit is the most recent legal move in a years-long dispute between Burton and the broadcaster that originated the series. Burton’s company RRKidz had previously obtained a licensing agreement from WNED, which subsequently claimed the former host breached their deal by allegedly attempting to, among other things, produce a Reading Rainbow revival for Netflix without WNED’s involvement.

“As evidenced by Mr. Burton’s conduct since he began ‘teasing’ the public about the return of Reading Rainbow years before his company acquired any rights to do so, Mr. Burton’s goal is to control and reap the benefits of Reading Rainbow’s substantial goodwill — goodwill that unquestionably belongs to WNED,” the public broadcaster claims in their new filing. The suit alleges “copyright infringement, conversion, cybersquatting, violations of the Lanham Act, breach of contract and interference with customer relations,” and seeks profits from LeVar Burton Reads, which Burton did describe on the podcast itself as “a Reading Rainbow for adults.” In perhaps the most ironic twist of all, the answer to Burton’s dilemma is, unfortunately, in a book, albeit an extremely large legal one that no child should be expected to read.

LeVar Burton Sued for Using His Reading Rainbow Catchphrase