NEW YORK (CBS/AP) — The creators of the original Phillie Phanatic accused the Philadelphia Phillies of “an affront to our intellectual property rights and to Phillies fans everywhere” with the team’s redesign of the 42-year-old mascot. The Phillies unveiled the redesign of the green mascot before Sunday’s exhibition game against Pittsburgh in Clearwater, Florida.
He has evolved, but clearly hasn't matured. pic.twitter.com/Tmo5jHNQOB
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) February 23, 2020
The new look features flightless feathers rather than fur-colored arms, stars outlining the eyes, a larger posterior and a powder blue tail, blue socks with red shoes, plus a set of scales under the arms.
Philadelphia sued Harrison/Erickson, the New York company that created the Phanatic, last August in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The team alleged Harrison/Erickson threatened to terminate the Phillies’ rights to the Phanatic as of June 15 and “make the Phanatic a free agent” unless the team renegotiated its 1984 agreement to acquire the mascot’s rights.
Wayde Harrison and Bonnie Erickson issued a statement Tuesday accusing the Phillies of a “lack of good faith in negotiating for an extension of the copyright assignment.”
“For more than 40 years, we have worked closely with the Phillies, making all the Phanatic costumes, providing artwork and ideas until June of 2018,” the statement reads. “The Phanatic has performed successfully for the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia for decades. The ‘business decision’ by the Phillies to roll out this ‘new’ Phanatic is a transparent attempt to deny us our rights under of the Copyright Act. We would love to have the real Phanatic continue with the Phillies.”
The team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit is in its discovery phase.
Fans’ reactions to the new-look Phanatic ranged from “festive” to “kind of creepy.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)