The owners of the “Dr. Seuss” and “Calvin and Hobbes” characters have won nearly $ 1.5 million for copyright and trademark infringements from a suit against a Los Angeles-based T-shirt maker.
“This is a warning as well as a major judgment to people to not knock-off characters without permission,” noted Anthony M. Stiegler, of San Diego-based Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye.
“All of these shirts and products are infringements of the owners’ copyright, trademark and general intellectual property legal rights.”
Stiegler represented the Geisel Trust, named after Theodore Geisel, who created the pen-name Dr. Seuss. Geisel died in 1991 and the trust holds the copyright to his characters.
The award was made against Aaron Unger, whom Stiegler characterized as a major T-shirt manufacturer who sells T-shirts nationwide.
The attorney for Unger, Kansas City-based John Aisenbrey, could not be reached for comment.
The award was split between the Geisel Trust, which received $ 750,000, and Universal Press Syndicate, the syndicator responsible for publishing and protecting Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon strip. That company received $ 737,000.
The judgment was awarded by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Additionally, the court issued a permanent injunction barring Unger from printing, distributing or selling clothing or other articles bearing the Dr. Seuss or Calvin and Hobbes characters.
“Neither of the owners of the Dr. Seuss and Calvin and Hobbes character rights have licensed or authorized any of the past T-shirts, hats and other items which appeared in the marketplace,” said David Oliver, of Kansas City-based Smith, Gill, Fisher & Butts, which represented Universal Press Syndicate.