A Copyright Lawyer Weighs In On Phillie Phanatic Dispute

PHOTO CREDIT: ERIC HARTLINE-USA TODAY SPORTS

I wrote an update earlier today about the pending legal showdown over the Phillie Phanatic between the Phillies and mascot creators Bonnie Erickson and Wade Harrison. I did so by citing the lyrics to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

Pretty creative, I thought.

Anyway, a trademark lawyer based out of Washington D.C. named Josh Gerben reached out to me earlier this afternoon to alert me of his breakdown on the case, and I must say, it’s a brilliant use of content marketing by him. A little free publicity and some legal assistance – smart man.

Here’s Gerben’s assessment:

To summarize Gerben’s findings:

  • Erickson and Harrison have a legitimate claim. The team needs to take them seriously.
  • The Phillie Phanatic won’t be headed to another team because the Phillies own trademark rights as well as some copyright rights, meaning Erickson and Harrison won’t be able to shop the mascot elsewhere.
  • The Phillies will probably have to pay some additional compensation to Erickson and Harrison, but the Phanatic will still be doing his thing at Citizens Bank Park for years to come.

Perfect. Now we can all go enjoy our weekends.

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