'Star Trek,' Dr. Seuss Mashup Lawsuit Moves Forward

A lawsuit involving the creators of a book mashing up Star Trek with Dr. Seuss is moving into its next round.

As a result of a federal judge’s ruling on Thursday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises will have to opportunity to file copyright and trademark claims against ComicMix, the creators of the crowdfunded book project Oh, The Place You’ll Boldly Go!

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, who controls the works of Theodor S. Geisel, the artist behind the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, previously filed suit against ComicMix in November 2016, after ComicMix crowdfunded tens of thousands of dollars for the project on Kickstarter.

In June, ComicMix was awarded a legal victory when US District Court Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed the trademark claims by Dr. Seuss Enterprises under the fair use doctrine. She allowed the copyright claim to move forward, but noted that the book was "a highly transformative work that takes no more than necessary to accomplish its transformative purpose and will not impinge on the original market for Plaintiff's underlying work."

ComicMix felt “vindicated” by the decision, In a statement, Dan Booth of Booth Sweet LLP, ComicMix LLC’s lead counsel, said, “I have never seen a case so focused on mash-up culture — and so strongly supportive. Judge Sammartino’s decision implicates not just literary hybrids but music remixes, appropriation art, supercut videos, and more, strongly suggesting that they should be protected from copyright claims.”

However, after considering Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ amended complaint, Sammartino has decided to allow both the copyright and trademark complains to move forward. Much of the case hinges on the use of a particular font on the cover of the Star Trek-Dr. Seuss mash up.

"Defendants not only use the words 'Oh! The Places You’ll Go!' in the title of Boldly but also use the exact font used by Plaintiff," the judge writes. "The look of the lettering is unquestionably identical on both books, down to the shape of the exclamation point. This situation is similar to that in Toho. The Court finds it was unnecessary for Defendants to use the distinctive font as used on Go! to communicate their message (i.e., that Boldly is a mash-up of the Go! and Star Trek universes)."

The reference to Toho is a callback to a case made by Toho, the controller of the Godzilla intellectual property, against a book publisher in 1998.

The judge herself has noted that the case represents an "important question regarding the emerging 'mash-up' culture," and so holds an importance well beyond the individual conflict between Dr. Seuss Enterprises and ComicMix.

Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go is written by David Gerrold, who wrote the classic Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles,” and is drawn by Ty Templeton.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter