Big day in MLB settlements: The Philadelphia Phillies and the creators of the original Phillie Phanatic settled their legal disagreement over ownership of the iconic mascot, clearing the way for a return to Citizens Bank Park in 2022.
This ends a legal contest over ownership of the Phanatic: The Phillies or original creators Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison. The background of the legal battle after a 2021 hearing before a U.S. magistrate, who ruled that Erickson and Harrison indeed held copyright to the original Phillie Phanatic design, but she also ruled that the Phillies had made enough changes to the design in 2020 to warrant its definition as a derivative work and under the ownership of the baseball team. Erickson and Harrison had created the Phanatic in 1978, but then sought to renegotiate the licensing agreement and terminated a 1984 Phanatic copyright assignment to the Phillies. The pair then refiled copyright for the Phanatic and sought a new licensing deal with the Phillies. The Phillies refused and then filed suit claiming the pair had an improper copyright on the Phanatic.
Nothing like a split legal decision to push both sides back to the negotiations, and sure enough they came to a settlement to ensure the return of the original Phillie Phanatic to Philadelphia. The agreement was finalized and certified by federal court Judge Victor Marrero today. The financial terms of the settlement are confidential.
“Ever since we created the Phanatic in 1978, Philadelphia has been his home. We are thrilled to see the original Phanatic back where he should be, in Philadelphia, for the fans of the Phillies,” said Erickson and Harrison via press statement.
“We welcome the original Phillie Phanatic back with open arms,” said Phillies Executive Vice President David Buck via press statement. “We are so proud of the 44-year history of the Phanatic and what the character means to the organization, to the City of Philadelphia and to Phillies fans everywhere. Our goal throughout this process was to come to an amicable solution that guaranteed the Phanatic could continue to entertain future generations of fans.”
The two created the Phanatic and introduced him on the field at Veterans Stadium on April 25, 1978.