As a well-seasoned judge of intellectual property infringement, you’ve judged cases regarding apple logos, a Danish design, chocolate ads, and a final resting place. For today’s case docket, it’s time to decide the fate of a missing feline.
Garfield is a daily-syndicated comic strip created by Jim Davis. The comic, which features the life of the title character Garfield, a cat, his owner, Jon Arbuckle, and the dog, Odie, has been published since 1978 and is syndicated in roughly 2,580 publications.
In February 2008, Dan Walsh created the blog, Garfield Minus Garfield. Walsh simply removes Garfield, Odie, and a few other characters from the classic Garfield panels. According to the site, “Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle.” The site has received as many as 300,000 hits a day.
And now, I’m sure you know the drill from past You be the Judge articles. You may be thinking “come on Sarah, tell us about the lawsuit. Tell us about how Davis sent Walsh a ‘cease and desist letter’ in an attempt to stop this blog. Tell us about how Davis argues that the blog is infringing on his right to create derivative works or argues trademark infringement.” Well, sorry folks, in a You be the Judge first, there appears to be no threat of lawsuit.
In a New York Times article, Jim Davis explains that he’s “flattered rather than peeved by the imitation” and admits that “some of [the comics] really work, and some of them work better.” He goes on to say that Walsh’s blog has prompted him to take a different look at his own work.
But even though there may never be any judges for this scenario, we can still play judge. And so… You be the Judge! What do you think of Davis’ decision? If there were a lawsuit, what would you, the judge, decide?
Check out our other You be the Judge posts for more adjudicatory role-playing.