Trolling for a Legal Battle: Urban Outfitters Sued for Copyright Infringement

trolls.jpgThey might look sweet, what with their bright tufts of hair and promises of good luck, but don’t rub these trolls the wrong way. Urban Outfitters did, and now the Philadelphia-based pioneer of “lifestyle merchandising” is being sued—along with one of its suppliers—by the Denmark-based Troll Company for copyright infringement. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month in New York Southern District Court, Troll Co. “contends that it holds the exclusive rights to produce and sell troll dolls with happy facial expressions and crazy hair in this country,” as an article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer so aptly puts it.

At the core of the suit is the grinning, Chia Pet-like “Turf Troll,” manufactured by Sourcing International and sold at Urban Outfitters stores earlier this year. In addition to requesting that the companies named stop selling and manufacturing the trolls, Troll Co. is also seeking monetary compensation and a list of retailers selling the offending trolls. This being a copyright case, one of the attorneys had to mention a certain mouse. “If you took Mickey Mouse and put a Chia Pet on its head and you sold it, it would still be an infringement on the rights of Mickey Mouse,” said New York lawyer Craig S. Mende, who is representing Troll Co.

turf trolls.jpgThe Inquirer reported today that “both companies appeared to have removed the disputed Turf Trolls from their Web sites,” but they didn’t look hard enough. We found them, via a link from Sourcing International to the Grow-A-Head site, which trumpets: “Each Troll design is a ‘limited edition’ and perfect for the Troll collector.” (Note to Sourcing International: Changing the case on those letter T’s might help your case.) Get your Turf Trolls now—$11.99 each, complete with jaunty hat—before their luck runs out for good.