Free at Last: The Phillie Phanatic legal battle is over
Free at last, free at last. After almost two years of legal battles, it was announced yesterday that the Philadelphia Phillies finally put the legal battle over the rights to the Phanatic to rest. The old version of the Phillie Phanatic will soon be available for the Phillies to use again after the two parties reached a settlement yesterday.
The Phillies paid an undisclosed amount of money to the creators of the Phanatic, which now allows them to use the new version or old version. No word yet, but I would bet my house on the Phillies going back to the original.
How did we get here? It was one of the first articles I ever wrote on The Liberty Line.
Back in 1978 – Harrison/Erickson Inc. entered an agreement with the Philadelphia Phillies over the use of a character they created (Phanatic) until 1984. At that time the Phillies tossed Harrison/Erickson Inc. $215k for what they claim was the right to use the character “forever”.
But apparently, that wasn’t the case. H/E – who probably hate Philly – claimed they were owed millions in a contract renegotiation if the Phillies continue to use the Phanatic character as their mascot past June 2020 due to some provision in the copyright laws saying after 35 years the time is up.
The Phillies didn’t back down. Instead, they altered the look of the Phanatic in order to keep the legendary mascot somewhat the same at the start of the 2020 season. The Phillies altering the Phanatic and not paying H/E was still argued in court up until August 21, 2021. The court ruled that the changes that were made by the Phillies to continue to use the altered version of the Phanatic were passable because they fell within the “Derivative Works Exception,” which is a part of the Copyright Act.
The old Phillie Phanatic will soon be the new Phillie Phanatic as the Phillies will be permitted to again use the original version of their famous mascot after finalizing the settlement of a lawsuit on Monday.
The settlement, which included the Phillies paying an undisclosed amount of money to the creators, allows the Phillies to now use either the new or old Phanatic. The team did not comment but all signs point to them bringing the old costume back to South Philly.
Kick rocks, new Phanatic. It’s time to get back to business.