The Philadephia Phillies sued the creator and designer of the Phillie Phanatic in order to maintain rights to the mascot, in a contract dispute dating back to a 1984 agreement.
The Phillie Phanatic was originally created and designed by Harrison/Erickson Inc, debuting in 1978. After a 1979 licensing agreement was terminated by H/E, the company and the Phillies negotiated a deal in 1984 that called for the Phillies to pay $215,000 for rights to the mascot.
That has been held between the two sides ever since, though the Phillies state that H/E sent a letter to the team in 2018 threatening to end the 1984 agreement unless it was renegotiated. The company warned that without satisfactory renegotiations, rights to the Phanatic could hit the block and ultimately be secured by another entity. The Phillies, however, say that the 1984 agreement between the two sides gives the organization rights to the mascot “forever,” meaning that H/E cannot legally sell rights to the Phantic. More from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
According to the suit, the designers have “threatened to obtain an injunction against the Phillies’ use of the Phanatic” and “make the Phanatic a free agent,” selling the rights to the furry, green-beaked creature to another sports team if the Phillies do not renegotiate with the mascot’s creators and pay them “millions of dollars.”
But the New York-based creators’ claims are “legally baseless,” the Phillies’ lawsuit argues, and selling the Phanatic to another team would violate the Phillies’ trademark rights….
Over the past year, the mascot’s creators have threatened legal action against the team, according to the Phillies’ lawsuit, claiming they had “created the copyrighted character” of the Phanatic while ignoring the Phillies’ role in marketing the popular ATV-riding mascot that first took the field in April 1978.
“Over the last 41 years, the Club has devoted millions of dollars to developing and promoting the Phanatic,” the 39-page lawsuit reads. “Without the Club’s contributions, the Phanatic would not have been a character at all.”
With this lawsuit, the Phillies are seeking to enforce the 1984 agreement and prevent another entity from obtaining rights to the Phillie Phantic.