Hollywood has a dispute over a model named “Walter” on its hands.
Jeff Dunham, the ventriloquist, producer and stand-up comedian, created the character “Walter,” and according to a lawsuit filed Monday, he has a trademark in the class of “talking dolls and plastic dolls” as well as a copyright registration. author for the 3D artwork and sculptural design of the mannequin.
Now in a case that features to test the intellectual property associated with a three-dimensional looking character, Dunham hires a guy who is supposed to produce dummy replicas.
Dunham is quite proud of his own model.
According to the suit, “Walter” has appeared with him on thousands of live shows over the past 25 years, appeared in YouTube videos, sitcoms and Dunham’s. A very special Christmas special, considered the most-watched telecast in Comedy Central’s history.
The defendant is Tony Horn, whose Facebook page touts its own dummy figures.
“Defendant is engaged in the manufacture, advertising, marketing, distribution, offering for sale and sale of ventriloquist dummies which are substantially identical to ‘Walter’ and which incorporate Walter’s intellectual property,” states the complaint (read here) filed with the California federal government. to research.
The lawsuit says Horn urged his social media community to “compare his figure to Walter” and, after receiving a cease and desist letter, sold the imitation for between $350 and $1,000. Sales reportedly continued despite “eBay removing at least one of its listings of the counterfeit product due to an infringement”.
Dunham, represented by Marty Singer and Lindsay Molnar at Lavely & Singer, claims trademark, trade dress, copyright, and unfair competition violations, and demands all kinds of monetary compensation. The complaint also seeks the destruction of merchandise “misleadingly bearing plaintiff’s Walter copyright, Walter trademark and/or Walter trade dress” and – perhaps a sign of things to come as 3D printing takes off – the destruction of “any moulds, screens, models or plates used specifically for the manufacture or manufacture of products bearing the Walter copyright, or which illustrate, reproduce or use the likeness of or copy or have a substantial similarity with the copyright by author Walter.
Called for comment, Horn replies that he didn’t make a “Walter” line. “If you put them together, you’d be like, ‘Absolutely no, they’re not the same. “”
Horn admits there is some resemblance, but claims Dunham was the one who snatched the “Walter” dummy from a former ventriloquist before getting a copyright recording. He says he hasn’t made a lot of money on what he’s sold, and adds, “There’s no competition here. He’s an artist and I’m a figure designer. I don’t agree with everything.