Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, the designers of the original Phanatic costume in the late-1970s who are currently involved in a lawsuit against the Phillies, responded Tuesday to the unveiling of the "new" Phanatic Sunday in Clearwater.
This was their statement:
"The Phillies lack of good faith in negotiating for an extension of the copyright assignment for the Phillie Phanatic is disappointing. But the unveiling of the so-called 'new' Phanatic on Sunday is an affront to our intellectual property rights and to Phillies fans everywhere.
"For more than 40 years, we have worked closely with the Phillies, making all the Phanatic costumes, providing artwork and ideas until June of 2018," added Bonnie Erickson. "The Phanatic has performed successfully for the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia for decades. The 'business decision' by the Phillies to roll out this 'new' Phanatic is a transparent attempt to deny us our rights under of the Copyright Act. We would love to have the real Phanatic continue with the Phillies."
The Phillies purchased rights to the Phanatic in 1984, but federal law allows artists to renegotiate rights to their work after 35 years.
In 2018, Erickson and Harrison informed the Phillies that they would seek to wrest the rights to the Phanatic away from the team unless it paid them millions. Last year, the Phillies filed a lawsuit against Erickson and Harrison in New York federal court to keep their beloved mascot. The Phillies contend that the Phanatic's four-decade rise from a costume to a Philadelphia sports and cultural icon is the result of their own creative forces and investment and therefore makes the creature property of the team.
The Phillies' rights to the Phanatic will expire on June 15, but the club is hoping the latest round of creative changes will be enough to legally continue its use of the Phanatic.