Phillie Phanatic legal battle reignites a with fiery update originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
With the 2020 season in the books, the Phillies are busy making decisions about the future of the franchise: What to do with general manager Matt Klentak, whether to bring back J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, and how to fix the bullpen are among the to-do items.
Now add to the list the resurfacing of a year-long legal battle with the creators of the Phillie Phanatic.
Harrison/Erickson, the creators of the beloved mascot, this week amended their countersuit to the Phillies' lawsuit from last August, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.
H/E reportedly requested additional monetary damages, citing the Phillies' "willful violations" of the copyright agreement for the Phanatic. H/E is seeking damages, including any profits the Phillies made off the mascot during the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 regular season, per the Business Journal.
H/E commented on the amended countersuit this week, per the Business Journal:
"'The Phillies are continuing to profit off H/E's creative work for free and without any legal right to do so, and without paying for the lawful exploitation of H/E's intellectual property. The Phillies' organization is effectively stealing H/E's intellectual property and trying to get away with it.'"
In a statement to the Business Journal, the Phillies objected to the "stealing" characterization, claiming the team is entitled to use its re-designed Phanatic's likeness, which was revealed this past February.
The Phillies purchased rights to the Phanatic in 1984, but federal law allows artists to renegotiate rights to their work after 35 years.
In 2018, Erickson and Harrison informed the Phillies that they would seek to wrest the rights to the Phanatic away from the team unless it paid them millions. Last year, the Phillies filed a lawsuit against Erickson and Harrison in New York federal court to keep their beloved mascot. The Phillies contend that the Phanatic's four-decade rise from a costume to a Philadelphia sports and cultural icon is the result of their own creative forces and investment and therefore makes the creature property of the team.
The Phillies' rights to the Phanatic expired on June 15, but the team used the re-designed version of the mascot throughout the season.
If the Phillies win the lawsuit, the Business Journal reports, they will be able to use either the original Phanatic design or the new design. If they lose the lawsuit, the court will have to determine if the new design is derivative of the original design.