Article by: Pete Caceci
Last week, the Phillies have filed suit against firm Harrison/Erickson, Inc. over who controlled the rights to the famous mascot, the Philadelphia Phanatic. The company has stated that if the Phillies do not pay a certain amount for a new contract worth “millions of dollars”, then they will pull the mascot out of the organization’s hands and make it a separate entity. Separate entity meaning the character can be anywhere at any time without any restriction and not wear any team logo. Supposedly this problem has been ongoing for many years, but unfortunately both sides have reached a standstill and will not budge unless the other caves.
The character was created by former-Vice President of the Jim Henson company (creator of The Muppets) Bonnie Erickson. From there the mascot made its first appearance on April 25, 1978 and has stayed with the team since. The suit alleges that Erickson and her husband Wayde Harrison were given more than $200,000 in construction and licensing costs to create the mascot, which allowed the Phillies to have the rights for five years. The deal was then further negotiated in 1984, paying the couple another $215,000. Since then, the Phillies have said that the 1984 agreement granted the team perpetual rights to the Phanatic.
Currently, Erickson and Harrison are trying to use Section 203 of the Copyright Act to regain control of their creation. It states creators can terminate a rights agreement, even if it has been granted in perpetuity — so long as certain prerequisites are met. The right to terminate this agreement cannot be done until after 35 years after the agreement, or in this case 35 years after 1984, which makes 2019 the first year H/E can try to gain control. The Phillies have responded by saying that they were told unless the team stops using the Phanatic by June 15, 2020, they will be in breach of copyright and taken to court.
Here is what we know about the threefold argument the Phillies are planning to use against H/E:
If the Phillies should win in this potential lawsuit, then they will bar H/E from terminating the rights agreement, ban them from suing the team in the future, and issue a permanent injunction barring them from selling the Phanatic to another team.
This should scare any Philly-based fan, as this iconic character is considered by many to be the best mascot of all time. To lose the face of an organization, when the team is not really doing that well in general, would create a major panic. I can speak for any person that the Phanatic is something the Phillies should never lose. He is such a major accomplishment for revitalizing the mascot industry and for being an authentic idea in general. If the Phillies were somehow not able to pay the amount that H/E want in a new contract, then I myself would hand over money. This character is more than just a mascot as it draws families to the stadium, visits countless schools for different charities, and brightens every spirit when it walks by. I do not know anyone that does not like the Philadelphia Phanatic, and honestly, I do not believe I ever will. This mascot is doing more for the city than any politician or sports player, so the Phillies should pay now, or face disastrous consequences.
To keep up with all things sports, be sure to keep it here at Heated Sports!