Trademarks: Who Ya Gonna Call, Fatso?

Who Ya Gonna Call, Fatso?

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Casper the Friendly Ghost is an amiable, almost cherubic-looking cartoon character. But his creator, Harvey Publications, felt downright hostile when the company's executives saw the logo for Columbia Pictures' 1984 blockbuster movie Ghostbusters. The logo featured a cartoon ghost behind the symbol for prohibition, a red circle with a bar across its center. Two years ago, Harvey filed a $50 million lawsuit claiming copyright and trademark infringement. The company claimed that the logo copied a Harvey cartoon character named Fatso, one of a trio of ghosts that taunt Casper.

Last week a U.S. district court dismissed the suit. "There are only very limited ways to draw the figure of a cartoon ghost," said Judge Peter Leisure. But the ghost could come back to haunt another judge because Harvey may appeal the ruling.