Whimsic Alley Store sued by Warner BrosNews
Warner Bros has filed a lawsuit against Harry Potter store Whimsic Alley, in Los Angeles. Whimsic Alley, initially an online store, opened store doors in 2004. It then moved location to a larger venue on Miracle Mile in Los Angeles, acquired a "Great Hall" to be rented out for events, and aspired to start a Harry Potter-themed cruise line. The studio claims that the store sells merchandise that infringes on the trademark owned by Warner Bros. Much of the Harry Potter merchandise sold at Whimsic Alley is unofficial, however Warner Bros owns all the rights to anything Harry Potter trademarked. Warner Bros' claims against Whimsic Alley will bring the "Great Hall" and the cruise under fire, as well as merchandise. Whimsic Alley and Warner Bros have both declined commenting, but it is known that Whimsic Alley has filed paper work disputing many of Warner Bros claims. Warner Bros is seeking monetary compensation, though a trial set in January, for damages. The Los Angeles Times reports:
The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeks to stop Whimsic Alley owner Stanley Goldin from selling goods that it says infringe on the studio's "Harry Potter" trademarks, and seeks unspecified monetary damages. A trial is set for January.
Both Goldin and Warner Bros. declined to comment, but legal analysts say it's no surprise that Warner's consumer products division would want to guard its lucrative "Potter" franchise against imitators.
"This guy is getting as close to the line as possible and maybe crosses it," said Allen Grodsky, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property litigation and reviewed the case for The Times. Whimsic Alley "isn't going to hurt them that much, but if this guy is going to be allowed to do this, then anybody can do it."
The studio has alleged that Whimsic Alley's wares and services — including its merchandise, its Great Hall and a forthcoming "wizard cruise" on an ocean liner — infringe on the studio's trademarks and trade dress by offering products "identical or similar in nature to and directly competitive" with licensed wares. Warner Bros. alleges this is "likely to cause confusion, mistake and deception among prospective purchasers."
Whimsic Alley, which moved to its Wilshire Boulevard location in 2010, has emerged as an unofficial gathering place for "Harry Potter" fans. On a recent weekday afternoon, a worker who sported a hairstyle reminiscent of "Potter" villain Draco Malfoy's rang up a customer, while a Spanish-speaking couple meandered down a long hall replete with chandeliers festooned in faux cobwebs. A trio of youngsters perused a display of wands.
Customer Caity Knox, 27, said it would be a shame if the legal dispute forced the store to close.
"Whimsic Alley is being bullied and made an example of," she said. "On Harry Potter's birthday, you will see people just going there to hang out and talk about stuff."