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As Breaking Bad Fans Celebrate Walt And Jesse's Return, Better Call Saul Was Hit With A Taxing Lawsuit

Saul in Better Call Saul
(Image credit: AMC)

Better Call Saul is now only two weeks away from completing its wildly ambitious and exceedingly excellent trip into Albuquerque’s underworld in the pre-Breaking Bad years. Of course, the timelines have now all converged with the airing of Episode 611, “Breaking Bad.” But just as fans were finally able to wholeheartedly celebrate Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul making their long-awaited reprisals of TV icons Walter White and Jesse Pinkman within Saul’s world, the AMC drama was surprisingly (and perhaps on-brandedly) hit with a lawsuit over an episode that aired earlier this season. 

AMC Networks, Sony Pictures and Better Call Saul’s producers were namechecked in a lawsuit filed by the company Liberty Tax Service, which is suing on the grounds of trade dress and trademark infringement. According to TheWrap, the company is going after the legal drama for its “intentional misuse” in depicting Betsy and Craig Kettleman’s company Sweet Liberty Tax Services, which was introduced to the show in the first half of the season with Episode 602, “Carrot and Stick.”

Liberty Tax Service goes on to allege the show is responsible for “dilution, defamation, disparagement and injurious falsehoods” over how the fictional company was depicted, as headed up by the money-hungry and embezzlement-friendly Kettleman family. Beyond the similarities in the name itself, the real-world tax company claims the Better Call Saul team purposefully copied the Liberty Tax logo and style, which includes various imagery involving the American flag and the Statue of Liberty. 

Here’s some specific language from the lawsuit implying the AMC drama’s intent.

Out of all the names Defendants could have used for the tax business portrayed in Episode 2, they decided not to be original at all, but instead rip off the famous Liberty Tax trademarks, which have been used for over 25 years, and mimic an actual Liberty Tax location just by adding the word ‘Sweet’ in front of Liberty Tax’s trademark.

At this point, it doesn’t appear as if AMC Networks, Sony Pictures, or any of Better Call Saul’s producers have spoken out about the lawsuit’s existence, which is understandable. It’s hard to tell just how seriously they’ll take the new filing, since it doesn’t seem likely that any one particular tax company has ultimate rights over using the Statue of Liberty or other American iconography in its logos and such. To me, the Kettlemans’ company looked like 100 other small-scale tax assistance operations, but that’s apparently not reflective of reality, or else Liberty Tax Service might have 100 other lawsuits on the table.

As fans will no doubt remember, Sweet Liberty Tax Services was the very place where Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman procured the inflatable Statue of Liberty that stands atop the character’s strip mall law office both in the prequel and in Breaking Bad proper. It was also the place where the Emmy-nominated Rhea Seehorn found more of her footing on Jimmy’s shakier side of lawfulness, which inevitably led to all kinds of terrible things like her leaving Jimmy and New Mexico altogether. 

While waiting to see how this lawsuit shakes out, Better Call Saul’s final episodes will air over the next two Mondays on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. Fans can watch Aaron Paul currently on Westworld Season 4 on Sunday nights on HBO, and he’ll be seen later this year (or next) in the upcoming season of Netflix’s Black Mirror. Bryan Cranston, meanwhile, has the second and final season of Showtime’s legal-ish drama Your Honor coming this fall. Head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what else is on the way.

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.