Lombardo et al v. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., case number 1:16-cv-09974, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is an interesting case for intellectual property practitioners, especially those involved in copyright matters and curious as to how the parody/fair use discussion started in my last post for ILN IP Insider continues to play out.
The story begins with producers getting ready to open a show entitled Who’s Holiday: A New Comedy In Couplets — a comedy that is either a parody of, or pastiche to, Dr. Seuss’ beloved How The Grinch Stole Christmas story. Dr. Seuss Enterprises had not been asked for permission to tell such a story or use such characters. So they had their lawyers, among other things, send a cease and desist letter to the play’s producers and the theater that those producers had booked had booked. Though it was probably actually a typical lawyer’s letter frequently used in intellectual property matters, we imagine it could have said:
Through this letter we must insist
That your infringing conduct should desist.
In fact to assure that you do not persist,
We include in our letter a list,
Stating concerns that should not be dismissed.
We are not playing about your play,
And care little about your saying what you say.
Your claim to parody is abstruse,
You just cannot utilize Dr. Seuss
Because it subjects our rights to abuse.
We require surrender, not a truce,
Or our Rambo lawyers we’ll unloose.
So in the end, if you do not cease,
You will have no peace,
And litigation expense will increase. Continue Reading