Phillies to unveil new look for the Phanatic, amid copyright battle

 The Phillie Phanatic entertains some fans in the seventh inning during a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on April 16, 2016.
Photo credit Hunter Martin/Getty Images
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Phillie Phanatic is getting a makeover. The lovable mascot's new look is expected to be unveiled at Sunday's spring training game in Clearwater. 

The changes come amid the team's legal battle with the Phanatic's creators.

At Chickie and Pete's in South Philadelphia, there was a lot of anticipation for the reveal of the Phillie Phanatic's new look.

"I'm against it. It's nuts. Somebody has to do something to make this stop," said Joe Shubert, a fan from Phoenixville. He seemed to echo the sentiments of many others who don't want to see anything change as a result of the Phillies' copyright feud with the mascot's original designers, Wayde Harrison and Bonnie Erickson.  

"The Phanatic is part of Philadelphia," said fan Ken Kaufman.

According to intellectual property attorney Peter Wakiyama, a partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP in Center City, Harrison/Erickson took the position it was sole developer of the Phanatic.

"The Phillies, on the other hand, are taking the position that they were also a contributor to the creation of the mascot and that as a result of that they were also what's called under the law a co-author, and therefore a co-owner in the copyright," he explained. "I would have expected that there would have been some discussion before either party wanted to resort to litigation, because this is a very expensive litigation."

"They should probably just make a deal," said Phillies fan Linda McCann. "Just make a deal and keep him the way he is."

The Phillies organization said that when the Phanatic makes his spring training debut, fans will see changes in the Phanatic's shoes and socks, as well as his measurements.

Shubert said that if the Phillies had to change the Phanatic's measurements, he would want to see a bigger Phanatic. McCann echoed his feelings, said she didn't want to see a slimmed down Phanatic.

"I guess we would have to accept him," she resigned, "but I just think that he should stay the way he is."

The rights to the Phanatic were purchased by the Phillies in the 1980s, but artists are allowed to renegotiate their rights after 35 years, according to federal law. 

There is a possiblility that if there is no agreement after this season, there might be no more Phanatic. Harrison/Erickson claim they have the right to end their contact with the Phillies if they can't come to terms over the mascot by June.

"A lot of people go to the games to watch the Phanatic," said Ed Heiser.

Fan Joy Sabtorelli asked, "So they would just have no mascot or would Gritty come in?"

At this point, the answer is unclear.