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Wimpy Kid sues Zombie Kid

Reuters reports that Wimpy Kid, Inc. (Jeff Kinney owned entity that holds the Wimpy Kid copyrights) is suing Antarctic Press for trademark infringement with its Diary of a Zombie Kid series
.

In addition to depicting a backpack-carrying protagonist, the suit alleges, the “Zombie Kid” cover artwork bears a startling similarity to the “Wimpy Kid” series, including “distinctive striping along the spine, the hand-drawn pictures of the main character on the front and back covers, both illustrated so as to appear to be taped at each corner of the cover, and the miniature illustration of a male child’s head located on the side of the book.”

The lettering is also confusingly similar to that of the “Wimpy Kid” series, according to the suit, with letters stylized so as to look brush-painted.

Via: Tom Spurgeon

Community Comments

#1 Howard Tayler
December/22/2011
@ 10:22 am

The stories might be dramatically different, but if Zombie Kid is being packaging that way this is probably a case of trademark infringement rather than copyright violation.

#2 David Jones
December/22/2011
@ 10:25 am

Well I better stop the presses on my Diary of a Cajun Kid Series…..

#3 Tom Richmond
December/22/2011
@ 12:05 pm

This will likely come down to whether or not the book is seen as a parody of the Wimpy Kid books, or just uses it’s formula and look but substitutes a Zombie in place of main character Greg. Having not see the Zombie Kid book, I have no idea. There are precedents in the courts that have sided with the idea that mimicking the look and feel of a product is central to the purpose of lampooning it. However the content must be clearly making fun of/criticizing the series.

#4 Keith Brown
December/22/2011
@ 1:25 pm

Tom,
You’re right and I’m sure that MAD magazine has more experience walking that tight rope than anyone else.

#5 Marc Davidson
December/22/2011
@ 4:36 pm

Book description via Amazon:
Middle school is horrific enough for any 5th grader’s first day. But for Bill Dookes, it’s a festering, rotting, undead nightmare! Since Bill’s deadbeat dad got arrested trying to burn the house down for the insurance, Mom’s had to make ends meet by volunteering to various medical research companies for cash. This would be fine if she hadn’t brought home a mysterious zombie virus! Now Bill has to deal with skin problems and body chemistry changes that make puberty look like a walk in the park! And then there’s his ever-growing appetite for BRAINS!

(This doesn’t sound like a parody.)

The complaint… alleges multiple counts, including federal trademark infringement (1), false designation of origin (2), trade dress infringement (3), federal trademark dilution (4) and deceptive trade practices (6).

(Not sure what the charges 2 and 3 mean.)

#6 Howard Tayler
December/22/2011
@ 5:30 pm

IANAL, however I’m pretty sure that “trade dress infringement” is making your package look exactly like somebody else’s package (fonts, colors, positioning of various elements).

Trademark dilution basically means confusing the public to think that item B comes from the same folks who gave you trademarked item A, and doing so in such a way that the trademark for item A becomes less recognizable.

Both of these are pretty easy to demonstrate. The good news (for Zombie Kid) is that re-titling the book and slapping a new cover on it will allow the work to survive.

#7 Marc Davidson
December/22/2011
@ 5:51 pm

Still not sure about false designation of origin. Publisher’s address goes to a P.O. Box? What?

#8 John Hover
December/23/2011
@ 1:17 am

my son is a big diary of a wimpy kid reader, and the other day he showed me the new diary of a zombie kid book. the style of the book looks just like diary of a wimpy kid. Thats what you think when you first look at it… personally I think jeff has good reasons for this. If the creators of zombie went to Jeff and ask for permission to use the same style as diary of a wimpy kid, and paid jeff a percentage of the zombie book then there wouldn’t be a problem here…. however, if this was a real battle i think zombies would defeat wimpy kids….

#9 Gerry Mooney
December/23/2011
@ 11:57 am

A zombie and a grasshopper walk into a bar. the bartender says, “hey, we have drinks named after you guys!”
The grasshopper says, “You have drinks named Tom Collins and Harvey Wallbanger?”

#10 Dave Stephens
December/23/2011
@ 4:29 pm

Some zombies are easy to kill…

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