Warner Bros. has won another court victory in its effort to crack down on the use of classic film characters in all sorts of merchandising, including T-shirts and water globes.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the studio and upheld an injunction that prohibits a group of consumer products firms from using images and quotes from “Gone With the Wind,” Tom & Jerry, and “The Wizard of Oz.” The companies, X One X Productions, Art & Vintage Entertainment Licensing (AVELA), and Art-Nostalgia.com, along with Leo Valencia, had been challenged in their use of the characters and images after Warner Bros. first filed suit in 2006.
The appellate judges, in a ruling issued on Tuesday, did not find fault with the district court’s ruling in favor of Warner Bros. on its trademark claims. The district concluded that consumers “cannot distinguish between” Warner Bros.’ products and those offered by the outside consumer products firms.
The appellate court also upheld the district court’s award of statutory damages of $2.6 million after it found that the companies infringed on Warner Bros. copyrights. The court ruled that the companies did not infringe on copyrights on images and publicity material that had fallen into the public domain, but those products must be reproduced without alteration.