Last year, Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) filed a complaint against the creators of a book entitled, 'Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go' that was a mashup of Dr. Seuss and 'Star Trek.' At that time, the project was being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. The complaint claimed the Star Trek mashup "unabashedly misappropriates DSE's intellectual property to create the 'look and feel' of an authorized Dr. Seuss work."
Here, from the court documents, is one comparison of the two works:
In June 2017, a judge dismissed DSE's trademark claim against ComicMix and three individuals, citing the doctrine of nominative fair use, but allowed ComicMix's copyright claims to move forward. DSE followed up by filing an amended claim and just last week a federal judge ruled that DSE can proceed with a copyright, trademark, and unfair competition lawsuit against ComicMix since it had not met all of the factors used to determine fair use.
The trademark under dispute is for the Dr. Seuss book title, 'Oh, the Places You'll Go!' ComicMix uses the title 'Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go' in the same font as the Dr. Seuss book. In last week's ruling, the judge wrote: "The look of the lettering is unquestionably identical on both books, down to the shape of the exclamation point.
The ruling went on to state: "Defendant’s production of Boldly may result in an adverse impact on Plaintiff’s derivative market and the Court therefore finds there is potential harm to the market for Plaintiff’s derivative works." Highlighting the case's potentially broader effect, the judge noted it represents an "important question regarding the emerging 'mash-up' culture."
An interesting sidenote: 'Oh, the Places You'll Boldly Go' is written by the author of the iconic Star Trek episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles" — David Gerrold.