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Gabibbo Replies (Company Lawyer Anyway) On Big Red Lawsuit

As many of you know, I have been following the Gabibbo-Big Red lawsuit for years and noted last month that Western Kentucky had lost what appears to be the first round in their fight against an Italian media company for what they say amounts to the copying of their mascot and turning him into a children's television show star.

It was hard for me the get the judge's ruling in Italian at the time, but I said in a previous blog entry that I did believe that Gabibbo was a copy of Big Red. Well, I'm pleased to say that people representing the television station in Italy have written back and have tried to clarify the situation.

Below is parts of a note sent to me by Stefano Longhini, director of legal affairs for the company:

"The judge has emphasized that the graphic image of the Big Red does not show the minimum creativity required in order to protect it and that its external form recalls the graphic idea of puppets already known in the cartoon world (Barbapapa, both morphological and conceptual identity 10 years younger than the American mascot; Elmo, Gossamer, Jelly Belly, in addition to all "blobs" we deem useless to mention...)

"As to the apparent Gabibbo's right to be protected by copyright, the Court...has remarked that 'it's originality lies in the puppet targeting the nature of the TV character...The court has then carefully compared the two works recognizing marked differences in the images as a lack of proof of plagiarism already per se excluded after the comparison of the two characters 'a very weak personality of the former (Big Red), a stronger one the latter (Gabibbo)."

"The court maintains: 'Therefore...the two share only the already mentioned figurative idea, whilst the external form appears to be very different: the Big Red in fact being designed as a container, a costume without any particular distinctive features, but for the name WKU on the bosom. The Gabibbo on the contrary appears having a more distinctive tract, with the presence of the neck, the nose, the rounded waist, the bow tie and cuffs.

"A superficial visual assessment allows to maintain they belong to the class of humanoid puppets with a red color with a big head, eyes and a mouth, but a second, more careful assessment, allows us to emphasize some characterizing differences...in particular: The Big Red shows on its bosom sewn the name of the University WKU, whilst Gabibbo is bereft of any name and/or symbol. The Big Red wears only a red fur, while Gabibbo wears, as if it were a tuxedo, a bow tie, a stomacher and cuffs. The Big Red's head has the form of a pear, whilst Gabibbo's is rounded. The Big Red's eyes are white with black pupils, whilst the Gabibbo also has bushy eyebrows. The Gabibbo has a nose, not present on the contrary on Big Red...The Big Red's legs are definitely shorter than Gabibbo's. The Big Red wears white tennis shoes, whilst Gabibbo has no shoes."

"As for statements made my Antonio Ricci (the most famous satirical author in Italy, known for paradoxical jokes) who, during an interview published in the article of the magazine Novella 2000 (a famous gossip magazine)...answered in an ironic and sarcastic way to those claiming rights on the invention of the 'snowman,' we must emphasize that the same statements had no relevance upon the court decision. Dr. Ricci never admitted copying the Big Red and the court has not deemed to recognize any illegitimacy in his behavior. The journalist, author of the above interview...declared himself willing to witness before the court about the non reliability of the statements made, being the interview context paradoxical, but the judge has considered his witnessing useless."

"These are the true facts. Incredible the news are (sic) circulating about a possible appeal about this decision. (We) have nothing to fear from a possible appeal... Of course, we do hope that after a deep reassessment of the issue (the plaintiffs) renounce to initiate again a risky and groundless lawsuit bereft of any reasons at least in fact and law."

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