The Copyright Infringement Lawsuit By Dr. Seuss Enterprises Against ComicMix Over the Star Trek “Mashup” Finally Settles
After a years-long battle between Dr. Seuss Enterprises and ComicMix LLC, the two have finally settled the copyright infringement lawsuit, which was initially filed by the famed author’s estate over Dr. Seuss/Star Trek mashup book entitled “Oh the Places You’ll Boldly Go.”
On October 5, 2021, Dr. Suess Enterprises, the group that controls the famous author’s intellectual property, and ComicMix, the publisher of the book “Oh the Places You’ll Boldly Go,” filed a joint motion asking Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the United States District Court for the Central District of California to approve a consent judgment and a permanent injunction, which prevents ComicMix from selling any more copies of the book.
According to the joint motion, ComicMix has admitted to infringing upon the copyrights owned by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, but ComicMix will be relieved of the obligation to pay any damages and attorneys’ fees.
According to a statement from Glenn Hauman, the vice president of production at ComicMix, the reason this agreement was reached was due to Ty Templeton, the artist behind the mashup, being diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer. “After five years of litigation and with the pre-trial deadlines looming, as Ty’s collaborators and friends, we refuse to put him through any additional stress that would in any way impinge on his health and recovery,” according to the statement.
This conclusion comes after nearly five years spent battling over the book, which combines the copyrighted works of Seuss’ iconic “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” with copyrighted elements from “Star Trek,” the science fiction TV show.
Prior to reaching this settlement, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the mashup wasn’t covered by the doctrine of “fair use,” which protects works that use copyrighted material from infringement claims when the work in question is used for parody, commentary, or other purposes (and/or meets other factors). This decision created an important precedent that clarified the limits of fair use: “Although ComicMix’s work need not boldly go where no one has gone before, it’s repackaging, copying, and lack of critique of Seuss, coupled with its commercial use of Go!, do not result in a transformative use,” according to the Ninth Circuit decision.
Following this decision by the Ninth Circuit on December 22, 2020, the United States District Court for the Central District of California determined that a jury trial was necessary to decide whether the comic book mashup infringed the copyrights of the famed author’s estate.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises is represented by Tamar Y. Duvdevani, Stanley Panikowski, Andrew Deutsch, and Ryan Compton of DLA Piper.
ComicMix is represented by Dan Booth of Dan Booth Law LLC.
The case is Dr. Seuss Enterprises LP v. ComicMix LLC et al., case number 3:16-cv-02779, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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