Barney biz target of lawsuit

Compass Entertainment says the creators of Barney the Dinosaur are hogging the popular prehistoric pet.

The Massachusetts-based company has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Boston against the Barney-backers, the Lyons Group, for deceptive business practices and breaching a pact to distribute $ 1.2 million in dolls and videos of the character to Compass’ retail clients.

“We were informed (early this year) that our original distribution agreement was being canceled, rewritten and modified,” said Martin Grossmueller, Compass prexy. “We said fine. We understood that. We continued to take orders and those orders went unfilled.”

In the $ 5 million suit, Compass also claims Lyons reneged on a written deal to give it rights to produce Barney concerts on a long-term basis in exchange for financing a series of test concerts.

Compass, which was the doll’s original distributor, says it produced several test concerts in Wallingford, Conn., long before the character grew popular. The gigs were so successful, Compass says, that Lyons execs even praised them in a letter.

Compass claims an upcoming, sold-out series of March perfs at Radio City Music Hall violate that pact, saying it had planned a multicity, multiyear concert tour for the dino.

According to the suit, 11 shows at Radio City sold out in less than a half-hour.

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