Oh, Where Cases Like That Will Go: How A Cease and Desist Letter Stopped the Play But Started the Suit

ILN IP Insider (International Lawyers Network)

James P. Flynn, a Member of the Firm and the Managing Shareholder of the firm’s Newark office, authored an article in ILN IP Insider (International Lawyers Network), titled “Oh, Where Cases Like That Will Go: How A Cease and Desist Letter Stopped the Play But Started the Suit.”

Following is an excerpt:

Lombardo et al v. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., case number 1:16-cv-09974, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is an interesting case for intellectual property practitioners, especially those involved in copyright matters and curious as to how the parody/fair use discussion started in my last post for ILN IP Insider continues to play out.

The story begins with producers getting ready to open a show entitled Who’s Holiday: A New Comedy In Couplets — a comedy that is either a parody of, or pastiche to, Dr. Seuss’ beloved How The Grinch Stole Christmas story.  Dr. Seuss Enterprises had not been asked for permission to tell such a story or use such characters.  So they had their lawyers, among other things, send a cease and desist letter to the play’s producers and the theater that those producers had booked had booked. Though it was probably actually a typical lawyer’s letter frequently used in intellectual property matters, we imagine it could have said:

Through this letter we must insist
That your infringing conduct should desist.

In fact to assure that you do not persist,
We include in our letter a list,
Stating concerns that should not be dismissed….