Betty Boop merchandising, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
The court ruled in a 2–1 decision that the chain of title had been broken after the original sale of the rights to Betty over 70 years ago. In essence, it said, Fleischer’s family lacks a valid copyright or trademark for Betty.
A 1930 court opinion said that Fleischer created the appealing female who “combined in appearance the childish with the sophisticated — a large round baby face with big eyes and a nose like a button, framed in a somewhat careful coiffure, with a very small body.”
In 1941, Fleischer transferred the rights to Betty Boop’s image and cartoons to Paramount Pictures Inc. According to the family, the rights were transferred several more times before they reverted to the family through their firm, Fleischer Studios Inc.
Afterward, the family started to license Ms. Boop for use in merchandise. A.V.E.L.A. Inc., a company which licenses images of the character, were sued by the family for copyright infringement.
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