Mike Norman from Marietta GA in big trouble

By now you’ve probably heard about the racist bar owner who sold T-shirts with Curious George on them and the words “Obama 08”. As John Lynch of Stranger Fruit pointed out yesterday, “And I’m sure Houghton Mifflin’s lawyers will want to have a word with someone …”.

Well today Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has stated their displeasure, here’s a couple of quotes from an AP article:

The publisher of the popular children book’s series “Curious George” is considering legal action against a Georgia bar owner for selling T-shirts that link Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to the inquisitive monkey.

“Houghton Mifflin Harcourt did not nor would we ever authorize or approve this use of the Curious George character, which we find offensive and utterly out of keeping with the values Curious George represents,” said Richard Blake, the company’s spokesman. “We are monitoring the situation and weighing all of our options.”

Mike had better hope that they offer him a cheap settlement and then take it without hesitation. This is because violating copyright and trademark laws can carry very steep penalties, steep enough to put him in bankruptcy. Last night I had noticed Mike Norman was trying to make himself look better by saying:

“It wasn’t meant to be racist,” Norman said. “It was just funny to me because they look so much alike – the ears, hairline.” A friend gave him the shirts, Norman said, and he donated the profits to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

I wondered if the Muscular Dystrophy Association had seen this story so, I sent them an email last night with a link to the story. Today I got a nice response from the MDA saying they have declined to take his money. They also said that their lawyers have sent him a cease-and-desist order so he doesn’t use their name again.

Of course some people still don’t get it as evidenced by this comment on a blog post at the AJC:

everybody relax, curious george is a celebrated and respected storybook character and obama should be honored to be compared to him.

This sounds like the type of person who thinks there’s nothing offensive with the confederate flag, duh.

Some of the articles on this subject:

Georgia bar’s T-shirt links Obama, Curious George | ajc.com

Marietta Daily Journal – Mulligan’s shirt drawing protests

Curious George publisher may sue over T-shirt | ajc.com

T-shirt draws protests | ajc.com

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