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Columbia Pictures Was Sued For Infringement Because Of The Ghostbusters Logo

When Columbia Pictures released the original "Ghostbusters" back in 1984, despite probably knowing they had a possible hit on their hands, there was no way to predict that the film would not only bring in a quarter of a billion dollars but also kick off a franchise that continues to grow today. However, like many other highly successful/profitable endeavors, the studio found itself in the middle of a lawsuit with another entertainment company, which claimed it deserved a piece of the money pie.

"Ghostbusters," the horror-comedy that follows a team of apparition-fighting New Yorkers, exploded globally and ignited the already successful careers of Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray (while also pushing Ernie Hudson into the spotlight). This film was not only loved by fans of all ages but also became a merchandising cash cow. Immediately after its release, the familiar "Ghostbusters" logo could be seen everywhere, from lunch boxes to t-shirts. However, it was this very logo that became the centerpiece of Colombia's court battle with a company that also leaned heavily on characters from the afterlife.

The lawsuit came from the company Harvey Comics, an American publisher that created "Casper, The Friendly Ghost." The chummy ghost first appeared in comics before expanding to televised cartoons, then eventually theaters. When the film "Ghostbusters" hit the big screen, it was the connection between its logo and one of Casper's lesser-known characters that prompted Harvey Comics to file the $50 million copyright and trademark infringement suit.

A Casper character looks just like the Ghostbuster's logo

Shortly after "Ghostbusters" was released in 1984, the movie became a smash hit, and a franchise was born. But the company Harvey Comics believed they deserved a portion of the profits due to the similarities between the ghost illustrated in the film's highly-recognizable logo and a character created within the "Casper, The Friendly Ghost" comics. Time Magazine reported that the New York publication company sued Columbia Pictures for $50 million, claiming the "Ghostbusters" logo ghost copied their own character, Fatso, one of three antagonist apparitions that taunt Casper.

The ghostly trio, which consisted of Fatso, Stretch, and Stinky, appeared in the "Casper, The Friendly Ghost" comic book series and were troublemakers for the title character. AP News explains that the lawsuit stated that the puffy ghost in the "Ghostbusters" logo, produced by Columbia Pictures, exactly resembled the Fatso character. For this, based on the fact that this logo was not only part of the movie but also helped sell a mountain of merchandise to fans, they deserved a significant amount of cash in compensation.

When looking at the two characters side-by-side, one can easily see the resemblance. The ghosts are simply drawn, white with a black outline, and have a flowed point to their heads. However, when it was all said and done, a federal judge ruled that there was no way to prove the copyright theft, and the lawsuit was swiftly dismissed. "There are only very limited ways to draw the figure of a cartoon ghost," concluded U.S. District Judge Peter K. Leisure of Manhattan.