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Fandom PopWrapped | Fandom

Harry Potter Store, Whimsic Alley, Faces Court Battle With Warner Bros

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author


10/23/2013 10:56 am
PopWrapped | Fandom
Harry Potter Store, Whimsic Alley, Faces Court Battle With Warner Bros

Clare Sidoti

Managing Editor

It is THE spot for Potter fans to visit while they’re visiting the City of Angels and now it looks like it has a fight on its hands as the big hand of the law is coming down on the beloved Whimsic Alley. Whimsic Alley, located on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles, is “a shopping haven for wizards of distinction” that provides Harry Potter fans (among other fantasy and sci-fi fandoms), the opportunity to buy merchandise (both official and unofficial) such as wands, costumes, books, and house ties. Along with the main shop front rooms, the grounds also houses a “Great Hall” that is reminiscent of the one from Hogwarts that can be rented for children’s birthday parties (or those who are young-at-heart). It also hosts a number of special events, such as the upcoming Whimsic Alley Craft Faires, a Doctor Who Time Lord’s Ball as well as a premiere screening of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. However, this may be the case no more as Warner Bros., the Harry Potter film distributor and who has owned the majority of the Potter trademarks since 1998, has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, Warner Bros. is seeking to stop Stanley Goldin, owner of Whimsic Alley, to stop “selling goods that it says infringe on the studio’s “Harry Potter” trademarks, and seeks unspecified monetary damages.” The studio claims that by offering products “identical or similar in nature to and directly competitive [to their own licensed products] is likely to cause confusion, mistake and deception among prospective purchasers.” While both Goldin and Warner Bros. have declined to comment on the lawsuit so far, a number of other legal experts are not surprised at the suit. Allen Grodsky, an intellectual property litigator who also reviewed the case for the LA Times, said, "This guy is getting as close to the line as possible and maybe crosses it. [The store itself] isn't going to hurt them that much, but if this guy is going to be allowed to do this, then anybody can do it." And that would be Warner Bros’ greatest fear, as letting this go will establish a precedent. With the new Potter-verse movies in the pipeline, the revenue from merchandising is expected to bring in big bucks for Warner Bros. Lutz Muller, chief executive of Klosters Trading Corp, estimates that the licensing of merchandise alone for the new film series could be in the order of $100 million. That’s a lot of money that Warner Bros. will want to ensure they get their hands on. This is not the first time that Goldin has attracted the attention of Warner Bros. A similar lawsuit against Goldin was filed in 2004. According to the current suit, that case ended with a settlement where Goldin agreed to “stop using or displaying items that featured Harry Potter trademarks – or other ‘confusingly similar’ products – in connection with the sale of merchandise.” One of the best outcomes for Goldin would be a similar settlement for the current suit. However, since this is the second infringement for the same offence, and as Grodsky said, “They can say, 'You did this once before, and now you are crossing the line once again.’ I understand why Warner Bros. is upset." Whimsic Alley began life as an online Harry Potter merchandise site before Goldin opened his first store in 2004 at Santa Monica. In 2006, Goldin explained to Costco Connection magazine, “I decided that if I was going to do this, I wanted to appeal to 'Harry Potter' fans." The case, which was filed in March of this year, is set to go to trial in January 2014, while Goldin’s attorney has also filed court papers disputing the allegations.


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