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Harrison/Erickson Issues Statement in Response to Phillies' Phanatic Lawsuit

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia Phillies' lawsuit, made public last Thursday regarding ownership of the Phillie Phanatic, lingers on.

On Tuesday, PR firm Baretz+Brunelle sent SportsTalkPhilly.com the following response on behalf of the defendants from the Phillies' lawsuit -- Harrison/Erickson:

“At the Phillies request more than 40 years ago, we created the Phanatic, giving him a story and a life. Over the decades since, we have taken care of him, even patching him back together when he needed it, and have had a good, professional relationship with the Phillies. We feel like he is part of our family and certainly a huge part of the fabric of Philadelphia. His value has grown with his popularity, and we felt that the Phillies franchise never offered a reasonable payment to extend the Phanatic’s license. Instead, we were sued by the franchise, which was incredibly disappointing.

While we very much want the Phanatic to remain the Phillies mascot, we will not yield to this lawsuit tactic. We intend to respond to it and win,” said Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, professional artists and creators of the Phillie Phanatic.

The firm noted the above statement contains "quotes from the creators," and was sent so "their side of the story" can be heard. The firm also responded with the following points:

  • Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison are among the best-known professional artists in their field, with over four decades of experience creating famous characters. (For example, Bonnie created Miss Piggy for the Jim Henson Company).
  • They created the Phillie Phanatic, registered it at the U.S. Copyright Office in 1979 and licensed their rights to the Phillies in 1984.
  • Over all these decades, no one has ever disputed that Bonnie and Wayde created and owned the registered copyright to the Phanatic.
  • Under federal copyright law, all individual artists are entitled to recapture and renegotiate the rights to their creations after 35 years, protecting the artists whose works have increased in value. In anticipation of the 35 year mark, Bonnie and Wayde were in negotiations with the Phillies for more than a year when they were sued by the franchise.
  • The rights are due to expire next June 2020.

A screenshot of the firm's email to SportsTalkPhilly can be seen below with the subject: "News - Phillie Phanatic - Statement from Creators" (Note: click to expand)

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Click HERE for our original article, which details the Phillies' side of the lawsuit.

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