Hartley: Come on, baby, let’s sue the twits

You guys remember Chubby Checker, right? He’s the guy who first exhorted your grandparents to do “The Twist” way back in 1960. I’ve been doing a little research, and I’ve learned a few things about Mr. Checker in the past few days.

First of all, he’s apparently still alive, which must be a huge relief to his daughter, a friend of mine who lives in the Aspen area. Second, he’s not even really that old; he’ll be turning 72 in October, and he still performs live today. Third — and this is the most important part — he’s pretty ticked off right now. I think when you hear why, you’ll probably agree with him.

You see, a few years back, someone started selling an app on the Hewlett-Packard app store (evidently that’s a thing — I had no idea) that was called the “Chubby Checker.” And what exactly did said app do? It supposedly helped men measure the size of their penises.

Now, I think we can all agree that calling a wiener-measuring app a Chubby Checker is pretty darn funny. (For those of you who are confused, female or asexual, “chubby” is a little-used euphemism for a wiener that’s, um, standing at attention.) Nevertheless, giving that name to an app was a clear and obvious violation of any trademarks Chubby himself might have had on the name.

So Chubby did what Chubby had to do and sued HP back in February, claiming that HP violated his trademarks, knowingly invaded his publicity rights and tarnished his name. This may seem a tad ironic, as Checker’s name is actually Ernest Evans, but we’ll conveniently overlook that fact.

The good news for Checker is that just last week a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the lawsuit alleging trademark infringement can move forward. The bad news is that parts of the lawsuit dealing with unfair-competition and right-of-publicity claims were tossed out. The other bad news is that Checker’s case against HP probably won’t bear any fruit.

HP claims, correctly, that it had nothing to do with creating or naming the app and wasn’t aware of any conflicts until Checker’s lawyers presented the company with a cease-and-desist order a year ago. At that time, the HP store removed the app, which had sold a mere 88 copies at a price of 99 cents each in the nearly six years it was available.

So even if Checker is entitled to monetary compensation, how much will he be able to recoup from an app that made less than $88? Probably not much. I would imagine his lawsuit has more to do with protecting his stage name and personal brand than making money. In any event, I hope he wins because, well, he’s the real Chubby Checker.

But on to other matters — namely, the Chubby Checker app.

I think this subject demands a little bit more discussion. It would seem to me that if men actually need an app to help them determine the size of their little friends, they must be unspeakably stupid, gullible or both, and I believe we should address that.

Seriously, whatever happened to using a dirty magazine and a ruler? Is that suddenly not good enough? Mind you, I’m not saying I’ve ever done that; I’m just saying that if I had ever felt a need to figure out my own length, I don’t think I would have needed modern technology.

Furthermore, for most men, knowing how long they are (or aren’t) could just be a slippery slope toward depression and feelings of inadequacy. (Of course, I could be overlooking the possibility that the app lies to the men who purchase it to help them feel more endowed than nature made them, in which case I can kind of understand why they would buy it.)

But if I may impart a small measure of advice to men out there who are considering downloading some other app to measure their willies, it would be this: Don’t do it. You don’t need technology to tell you what you likely already know. If you’re small, you’re small; no app is going to change that.

Instead of wasting your hard-earned 99 cents, you should do what your predecessors have done for untold millenia before you: Lie about it.

Trust me, by the time she finds out you weren’t being honest with her, she’ll probably be so personally invested in the project that it won’t matter anyway.

Todd “Portly Tiddlywink” Hartley recorded the classic hit “The Rotate.” To read more or leave a comment, please visit


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