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Harvey Publications to Columbia Pictures: ‘Hold that Ghost 3/8’

October 29, 1986 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ The creators of Casper the Friendly Ghost said Wednesday they won’t be scared off by the dismissal of their copyright infringement suit over the logo used in the hit comedy film ″Ghostbusters.″

Harvey Publications claimed Columbia Pictures’ ″Ghostbusters″ logo, a cartoon ghost inside the international red symbol for prohibition, violated its rights on a character named ″Fatso,″ part of the ″Ghostly Trio″ of mischievous ghosts who bedeviled Casper in comic books and animated cartoons.

But a federal judge ruled Tuesday that Harvey didn’t have a ghost of a chance of proving its case and dismissed the $50 million copyright and trademark infringement suit.

″There are only very limited ways to draw the figure of a cartoon ghost,″ said U.S. District Judge Peter K. Leisure of Manhattan.

Harvey said it won’t give up the ghost, however.

″We intend to appeal,″ said Ken Selig, Harvey’s managing editor. ″It’s very much a prized character.″

″We don’t comment on matters under litigation,″ said Hilary Condit, a Columbia Pictures spokeswoman in New York.

Selig said when he first saw advertisements with the ″Ghostbusters″ logo in January 1984, he thought his employers had made a deal with Columbia Pictures.

But Harvey had no such arrangement and soon the decision was made: Who Ya Gonna Sue? Ghostbusters 3/8

″It fooled me,″ said Selig. ″The more the Columbia version of this ghost is shown, we feel there’s going to be confusion in youngsters’ minds.″

In his spirited, 21-page decision, Leisure wrote: ″This is a dispute over two ghosts.″

He granted Columbia Pictures’ motion for summary judgment against Harvey, noting that Harvey’s copyright on an unnamed character that later developed into ″Fatso″ had expired long before advertising began for ″Ghostbusters,″ a box office smash about three hapless spook chasers in Manhattan.

Although Harvey renewed its copyright in 1983 for the ″Ghostly Trio,″ Leisure ruled it cannot ″affect or enlarge the scope or duration of copyright protection for the artwork which has long since entered the public domain.″

Leisure, who said he studied numerous Harvey comics dating back to the 1950s, also noted that most of the elements in drawings of ″Fatso″ appear to be ″stock features of cartoon ghosts in general.″

While the basic outline of ″Fatso″ and the ″Ghostbusters″ logo both consisted of specters with a ″top-knotted design and jowly cheeks″ the facial expressions were different and the similarities ″are not substantial,″ Leisure said.