A few months ago, we wrote about Netflix’s Tiger King capturing a quarantined country’s collective attention. Specifically, we wrote about how trademark infringement brought down the Tiger King. After all, Carole Baskin’s intellectual property infringement allegations ultimately caused Joe Exotic’s finances to spiral into ruin. While Exotic remains behind bars for ordering a hit on Baskin, Baskin continues to claw into the Tiger King’s enterprise. As such, on June 1, 2020, an Oklahoma district court ruled that Exotic’s company must transfer ownership of his Oklahoma “zoo” to Baskin.
Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue previously agreed to a settlement with the Tiger King. In turn, Exotic agreed to pay $1 million in damages for trademark infringement. However, Exotic thought he had a trick up his sleeve. If he agreed to the hefty settlement but didn’t have the assets to cover payment, he would ultimately get away with the infringement, right?
Sham Deeds Voided; Baskin Awarded Tiger King’s “Zoo” Thanks to Trademark Infringement
As it turns out, and to no one’s surprise, the Tiger King couldn’t be more wrong. In 2015 and 2016, Exotic executed two quit claim deeds to move his “zoo” property into his mother’s name. An Oklahoma district court recently found that the property transfer was fraudulent, “with the design and intent of removing the real and personal property from the reach of Big Cat Rescue.” Accordingly, the court voided the property transfers, labeling the quit claim deeds as sham deeds.
As a result, the court transferred ownership of the “zoo” lands to Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin’s Tampa-based organization. The current tenant of the “zoo,” Jeff Lowe (Exotic’s former business partner), must remove his animals and vacate the land within the next 120 days. For his part, Lowe plans to open a new Tiger King Park in Oklahoma. Hopefully, Lowe treats the animals better than Exotic did.
Yet again, the Tiger King finds himself on the wrong side of the law and must pay the price. While Oklahoma property law dictated the final resolution to the settlement with Baskin, Exotic’s trademark infringement set the high price. Ultimately, trademark infringement caused the Tiger King to lose his “zoo”.