Larry Cano wants to be a monkey’s uncle — or, at the very least, his good friend.
Specifically, Cano, a film producer, views the hirsute hero of the World Series champion Anaheim Angels as a perfect role model for kids and wants to make a movie featuring the simian superstar.
Cano has filed both a trademark application for the term “Rally Monkey” and a script treatment with the Writers Guild of America.
There’s only one problem. The real parents aren’t willing to part with the furry fellow.
Cano has apparently beaten the Angels to the punch in attempting to register the term and even applying for a copyright for his script. But the team and Major League Baseball say they have prior rights to the name.
They have already begun to enforce those rights against others looking to make a buck from the monkey, whose image can bring a stadium full of fans to their feet and propel the team to a come-from-behind victory.
“The mere fact that somebody filed for trademark registration does not give them any special legal status,” said Rick Schlesinger, an attorney for the Angels. “Our position is that ‘Rally Monkey’ is a protected trademark of the Angels and has been so since we first used it in the fall of 2000.”
Not to mention the fact that the Walt Disney Co., which owns the Angels, might want to make its own Rally Monkey movie someday.
The monkey with seemingly miraculous powers first made its appearance on June 6, 2000, when the Angels, losing to the San Francisco Giants, needed a boost. The operator of the Sony Jumbotron in centerfield played a clip from the movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” that showed a capuchin monkey jumping up and down.
Fans went wild, the team won, and a tradition was born.
Until this year, the monkey restricted its appearances to inside the stadium. But as the Angels moved closer and closer to the baseball playoffs, the monkey made its way to T-shirts and other items.
“The Rally Monkey started out as a whimsical, lighthearted in-stadium promotional vehicle,” Schlesinger said. “It was not intended nor was it ever expected to be something you could make money off of.”
Cano, an executive producer of the 1983 film “Silkwood,” grew up in Anaheim and says he is a lifelong Angels fan. He views the monkey as a fan phenomenon with an inspiring message for kids.
“Never give up, do the best you can, come from behind — it’s just a fantastic film idea,” said William Levin, an intellectual property attorney in Laguna Beach, representing Cano. “As far as we know, no one has used the Rally Monkey as a trademark before (Cano) filed his applications. It’s a fan phenomenon.”
Cano, who lives in Newport Beach, declined to be interviewed.
Intellectual property experts say Cano has little chance of enforcing his trademark application against the Angels.
“You cannot hijack a trademark by filing an application against the rightful owner,” said Alfred W. Zaher, a trademark attorney at Woodcock Washburn LLP in Philadelphia. “This person is trying to obtain a right he hasn’t used.”
The Angels say they don’t want to enforce their rights with too heavy a hand and be seen as bullies by the fans who made the Rally Monkey famous in the first place.
“There is a common misconception that we are trying to corner the markets on monkeys,” Schlesinger said. “You can always buy a stuffed monkey. Whether you buy it from us or at a local store, we welcome it. What we are trying to protect is the use of the term “Rally Monkey.”