Monday, March 08, 2010

H.R. Pufnstuf vs. McDonalds?

From my weekly (AM) radio segment titled "Legal Minute"

McDonalds has a reputation of being one of the most litigious companies in corporate America but those of us old enough to remember H.R. Pufnstuf will delight in this case. In 1973, Sid and Marty Krofft, the creators of H.R. Pufnstuf, successfully sued McDonald's, arguing that the McDonaldland premise was a ripoff of their popular TV show. The Kroffts claimed that the character Mayor McCheese was a direct copy of their character, "H.R. Pufnstuf". McDonald's was ultimately ordered to pay the Kroffts more than $1 million. McDonaldland, as it was depicted in the commercials (which can now be found on YouTube) was a magical place very similar to the popular H.R. Pufnstuf program. McDonald's had originally hoped the Kroffts would agree to license their characters for commercial promotions. When they declined, McDonaldland was created, purposely based on the H.R. Pufnstuf show. After the lawsuit, McDonaldland was all but closed. Over 30 years later, the law hasn’t changed. Get the license because copying doesn’t pay.