October 22, 2013 — Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, CA
Allen Grodsky, and intellectual property litigation attorney, reviewed the case for the Times saying that “[Stan Goldin]…is getting as close to the line as possible and maybe crosses it,” when it comes to selling the unofficial Harry Potter merchandise at Whimsic Alley.
And I quite agree with him. Though, Whimsic Alley has been the sole source of Harry Potter goodness for many people in the Los Angeles and surrounding areas, if you check out Whimsic Alley’s Yelp Page you’ll see that vendors and customers alike slam the store for shady business practices (one review mentions design theft) and poor customer service.
Stan Goldin, Whimsic Alley’s owner was sued in 2004 by Warner Bros. for several of the same copyright infringement allegations and settled out of court. It’s no surprise to this Harry Potter fan that he’s under the legal gun again. With JK Rowling working on a script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Warner Bros. is going to want to keep a tighter leash on it’s intellectual property merchandise. Also, with Harry Potter shopping going online with Pottermore and The Harry Potter Shop as well as the fact that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is coming to Universal Studios in the near future (2016) this means Whimsic Alley will have some stiff and OFFICIAL competition.
Whimsic Alley recently announced a four-night “wizard cruise” on a Princess Cruises ship, and got quite a bit of media attention. This “wizarding cruise” was citied in Warner Bros.’ current lawsuit.
The LA Times article speaks to a fan (customer Caity Knox, 27) who would rather have unlicensed merchandise quoting her as saying:
“If I am going to dress up as Harry Potter, I am not going to buy something that has a logo on it,” Knox said. “I want to buy something that an actual wizard would have.”
As a member of one of the biggest Harry Potter meetup groups in the US, I hope I can safely say she’s in the minority. Most of us want official Harry Potter merchandise or we want our crafty friends (many of whom have ETSY shops) to make us stuff like scarves and sweaters and earrings and such. In fact, I know several people who have traveled to England specifically to get even closer to the Official Harry Potter brand and tour the studios and visit the filming locations.
Harry Potter is a big deal. And we don’t take shenanigans lightly.
I will keep you all posted as I know more about the lawsuit and what it means for Potter fans.
Please, let me know your thoughts. Are you on Whimsic Alley’s side? If so, why? Are you on Warner Bros. side? Why?
Bazingirl, Grand Master Blogger (and HUGE HP FAN)