Last time, I discussed the new GoFundMe campaign implemented by ComicMix, LLC to assist in paying legal fees associated with an infringement lawsuit filed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) back in late 2016. The lawsuit has been a very active one, with 13 notices, 14 motions, 7 responses, 6 replies, 28 judicial orders, and 1 amended complaint (so far)…and the date of trial isn’t until next spring! The lawyers on both sides have been VERY busy…which is mainly why this lawsuit is costing so much.
Things are going well for both sides at the moment, and it’s far from clear how this lawsuit will turn out once it goes in front of a jury (assuming it doesn’t settle, which isn’t looking likely at present…but who knows, right?)
Most recently, Hon. Judge Janis Samartino of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court in San Diego made two very significant rulings that will likely have a major impact on this case. One was clearly a win for the defense (“Team Mash-up” as I call them) and was actually covered by The Hollywood Reporter (and other media outlets) two months ago with the headline: “‘Star Trek’/Dr. Seuss Mashup Creator Beats Trademark Claims.” That made it almost sound like the case was over. Not even close! The “victory” by Team Mash-up was only partial, albeit important. I’ll explain that shortly.
Then last month, another ruling came down striking 11 affirmative defense claims that Team Mash-up intended to use to argue their case. That’s the legal equivalent of taking 11 arrows away from an archer going into battle who only has 37 arrows to begin with. So this time, it was a victory for the plaintiff…although, again, only a partial one.
This lawsuit—a very important case that could set a significant precedent in the emerging art form of the “mash-up”—has turned into a fascinating game of chess. And as I’ve done before on this blog, I’d like to translate all the boring legalese into enjoyable English so you folks who are interested can get a layperson’s update on this fascinating case.