By Todd Allen
You’ve doubtless heard of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” the comics-ish series that started out as a web feature, become a best-selling book series and expanded into movies. You may not have heard of “Diary of a Zombie Kid” from Antarctic Press. Written by Fred Perry and drawn by David Hutchison, Zombie Kid has drawn attention from the Wimpy Kid lawyers.
From Publisher’s Weekly:
But that changed on Tuesday with the filing of a trademark infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against Antarctic Press, publishers of Diary of a Zombie Kid. Wimpy Kid, Inc., a company owned by author Jeff Kinney, charged the defendant with eight counts of “blatantly” infringing its intellectual property and diluting its trademarks by publishing, advertising, and distributing its books. In addition to punitive damages, among the remedies that Wimpy Kid seeks is the destruction of all Diary of a Zombie Kid books and any other infringing materials.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “that’s parody — nobody sues for parody.” People do sue for parody. They don’t always win, but if they’re sufficiently larger than who they’re suing, sometimes they get a settlement. One suspects had this run in Mad Magazine, there would be no lawsuit. Where this lawsuit gets a little more interesting is in the trade dress complaints:
In addition to the confusingly similar title, the jacket design of Defendant’s infringing works are substantially similar to those of Plaintiff’s series andare obviously intended to confuse the public into believing that Defendant’s books are additions to such series. Defendant is thereby illegally trading off of the substantial goodwill that has resulted from the significant success of Plaintiff’s books in the marketplace and palming off its own books as those of the Plaintiff.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.