A New York law firm is threatening to sue Happy and other clowns if they don’t stop dressing as purple dinosaurs or red dogs in their shows at children’s birthday parties. Those characters, the firm alleges, are too much like Barney and Clifford the Dog.
And no more Mr. Conductor or Bob the Builder look-alikes either.
Happy’s smile — and those of at least a dozen other Bay Area clowns — started to crack in the last week when they received letters from Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP, a Madison Avenue firm that represents the owners of the rights to Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine and Clifford.
“Plaintiffs will not tolerate costume infringement,” says the letter. “In view of your infringing conduct, plaintiffs have instructed this law firm to file suit against you and your business.”
To settle without going to court, the letter says the clowns should stop using the costumes, surrender them, pay $100,000 and sign an agreement never to use the characters again. The firm says its clients could be awarded damages of up to $150,000 per character if it wins a court case.