Harper Lee Sues Hometown Museum Over Trademark
Harper Lee is suing a museum in her hometown of Monroeville to stop it from selling souvenirs with her name and the title of her Pulitzer Prize-winning book on them.
Lee’s lawsuit was filed last week in federal court in Mobile, Alabama, and alleges that the Monroe County Heritage Museum traded on the author’s fame without her approval or any compensation.
The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages, according to USA Today. Museum attorney Matt Goforth responded to the lawsuit, saying, “Every single statement… is either false, meritless, or both.”
Lee chose to take legal action in the case after she sought a federal trademark for the title of her book, To Kill A Mockingbird, when it is used on clothing. The museum opposed Harper Lee’s application, saying that its souvenir sales related to the author are vital to its survival.
It wasn’t the first time Harper Lee was in court with a lawsuit in recent months, notes ABC News. A suit against the author’s former literary agent over royalties was dismissed last month when the parties reached a mutual, private agreement. Lee’s lawyers claimed that the agent took advantage of the author’s old age when she signed a document assigning her copyright to the book.
In his response to Lee’s lawsuit against the museum, Goforth wrote, “It is sad that Harper Lee’s greedy handlers have seen fit to attack the non-profit museum in her hometown that has been honoring her legacy and the town’s rich history associated with that legacy for over 20 years.”
Lee claimed in the lawsuit that the museum “intentionally sells its goods and services by unauthorized use of the ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and Harper Lee marks and names.” The lawsuit alleges that the museum is violating federal trademark infringements and federal law of unfair competition. There are no hearings scheduled in Harper Lee’s latest lawsuit.