Well, I never thought an old 1983 lawsuit would be my find of the week! From a collector standpoint, this Snoopy Vs. Sunrise Mold Co. lawsuit clarifies what we already suspected. Check out the full legal brief and additional photos in the Patreon post.
First off, not a lawyer! If I get things wrong, please let me know gently.
I came across this legal case while searching for something else not related to this. I don’t remember what. I find it interesting because all these years later, it’s still annoying serious Peanuts collectors.
The Case of Snoopy Vs. Sunrise Mold Co.
The case is United Feature Syndicate vs. Sunshine Mold Co. The UFS has been hunting down ceramic molds and unpainted ceramic figures distributors for years. Apparently, no one was keeping good records, so the UFS couldn’t take down the kingpin. Instead, they brought a $300,000 lawsuit against the Sunrise Mold Co. and won.
The important part was UFS, who owns the Peanuts characters copyright, purposefully didn’t allow hobbyist mold making because there wasn’t any way to control quality. Cease and desist letters weren’t working anymore. “In 1982 and the early months of 1983, twenty to twenty-five percent of the nearly three hundred infringements of the “PEANUTS” copyrights of which plaintiff was aware involved unauthorized plaster molds or figures.”
While the trial evidence is sadly not recorded, we can obviously assume that these unlicensed molds were the Peanuts Hungerford Knock-offs. The other revelation was that there were also Snoopy and Woodstock Christmas ornament molds, plus a Woodstock. I believe the Woodstock is stolen from a Determined Production bank. There may be lots more out there not covered by this lawsuit, too.
The other interesting bit in the lawsuit is about “Fred,” a dog similar enough to Snoopy to be called out in the lawsuit. I wish we knew what Fred looked like. I pulled a photo of who I suspect to be Fred for this post. However, without a catalog for the Sunrise Mold co, we’ll just have to guess for now. I was not able to find anything for the era of the lawsuit.
Why I find this Case Important
Years ago, I received an email from a lady with these beautiful photos of the knock-off Peanuts ceramics. I told her what they were and how they’re not that collectible in Peanuts circles. She internet yelled at me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Now, I can point to a legitimate lawsuit. True, it doesn’t really have photos of the ceramics, but at least it points to a big problem they were having. These knock-off Hungerfords are obviously what the UFS was trying to curtail as there aren’t any other knock-off Peanuts ceramics as prevalent in the marketplace. Definitely a copyright infringement!
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