(CN) – The Philadelphia Phillies’ beloved mascot, The Phanatic, is not up for grabs says the Major League Baseball team in an ownership dispute with the company that helped design him over copyright of the famous flightless bird.
Harrison/Erickson Inc. threatened to terminate its long standing agreement with the Phillies to cease the use of The Phanatic by June of 2020 if their contract was not renegotiated to make The Phanatic a “free agent,” according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan by The Phillies.
The Phillies worked with Harrison/Erickson in 1978 to create the character and maintained the agreement until 1984 when the Phillies paid $215,000 to transfer the rights for the character “forever.”
According to the 39-page complaint, the letter sent by Harrison/Erickson claimed the design company had “created the copyrighted character.” The Phillies allege the company had “ignored The Phillies’ role in designing The Phanatic’s costume.”
In March of 1978, The Phillies worked with Harrison/Erickson to develop the character, whose shenanigans run the gambit of what the complaint calls “the quintessential fanatical Phillies fan,” from “audacious slapstick routines,” to teasing players of the opposing team, umpires, managers and fans alike.
At the time of The Phanatic’s creation, the Phillies paid nearly $6,000 for the design and work on the character that later became a multimillion dollar name through advertising, social media and fan recognition, according to the complaint.
The Phillies seek a permanent injunction against Harrison/Erickson from selling, transferring or licensing rights in The Phanatic to any other sports team or third party. The Phillies also wish to enjoin the company from selling any Phanatic-related product or merchandise.