PHILADELPHIA -- You can bet a roundtrip ticket to the Galapagos Islands that the Phillie Phanatic will be looking like his old self again in the near future.
The settlement of a copyright lawsuit between the Phillies and the Phillie Phanatic’s co-creators, Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, states that the Phillies have the option to use the design of the original Phanatic, which was created in 1978, or the altered one they introduced in Spring Training 2020, after the Phillies countersued Erickson and Harrison to protect their rights to use the iconic mascot, which is considered by many to be the best in North American professional sports.
The Phillies made the announcement on Tuesday that they had come to an agreement that will keep the original Phillie Phanatic in red pinstripes for years to come.
“We welcome the original Phillie Phanatic back with open arms,” said Phillies executive vice president David Buck. “We are so proud of the 44-year history of the Phanatic and what the character means to the organization, to the City of Philadelphia and to Phillies fans everywhere. Our goal throughout this process was to come to an amicable solution that guaranteed the Phanatic could continue to entertain future generations of fans.”
The Phillies purchased the copyright from Erickson and Harrison in 1984, but federal law states that artists can renegotiate their rights after 35 years. Erickson and Harrison told the Phillies in 2018 that they planned to reclaim those rights. The Phillies filed a counterclaim in 2019 to maintain their rights, saying their own creative efforts made the Phanatic what it is today.
The settlement was reached last month, but the parties had 30 days to finalize the terms. The agreement included the Phillies paying an undisclosed amount of money to Erickson and Harrison, who sought millions in the original lawsuit.
The reimagined Phillie Phanatic had subtle changes that the franchise created to maintain ownership and usage, including a cylindrical nose; reshaped eyes; recolored eyebrows; a reshaped rear, including a tail; wings; and new shoes and socks.
Fans didn't like the new design; nor did Erickson and Harrison, who called it an affront “to our intellectual property rights and Phillies fans everywhere.”
Fortunately, Phillies fans won’t have to worry about a Phanatic with wings anymore.
“Ever since we created the Phanatic in 1978, Philadelphia has been his home,” Erickson and Harrison said in a statement. “We are thrilled to see the original Phanatic back where he should be, in Philadelphia, for the fans of the Phillies.”