Phillies want to keep mascot, file lawsuit against creators of Phanatic

The Phanatic has been a fixture with the Phillies since 1978. The mascot and the team are waging a legal battle over who owns the copyright to the mascot.
Caption
The Phanatic has been a fixture with the Phillies since 1978. The mascot and the team are waging a legal battle over who owns the copyright to the mascot.

Credit: Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Credit: Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Phillies want the Phanatic to stay. But does the beloved mascot of the major league baseball team, a fixture on the Philadelphia sports scene since 1978, want to become a free agent?

>> Read more trending news 

In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in New York, the Phillies alleged the firm they hired to create the Phanatic character is trying to back out of a 1984 agreement that granted the team use of the mascot "forever," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

According to the 39-page lawsuit, the Phillies accused Harrison/Erickson Inc., a New York-based company, of threatening to obtain an injunction against the team's use of the Phanatic and make the mascot "a free agent." If that happens, the furry, green mascot could negotiate to sell its rights to another sports team, the Inquirer reported.

According to the lawsuit, Phillies executive Bill Giles helped develop the idea of the Phanatic, which debuted at Veterans Stadium in 1978, WPVI reported. The Phillies claimed they paid Harrison/Erickson $25,000 for rights to the Phanatic costume that would last "forever," the lawsuit alleges.

The team said in the past year, Harrison/Erickson has tried to end the 1984 agreement, believing it "created the copyrighted character," It's a claim the Phillies said is "legally baseless," according to the lawsuit.

“Over the last 41 years, the Club has devoted millions of dollars to developing and promoting the Phanatic,” the lawsuit alleges. “Without the Club’s contributions, the Phanatic would not have been a character at all.”

Lawyers for the defendants were not listed in court documents, the Inquirer reported. The Phillies told the newspaper that it does not comment on pending litigation.