More than twenty years ago, in Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. v. Penguin Books USA, Inc., the Ninth Circuit favored Seuss, concluding that The Cat NOT in the Hat!, a self-described “parody” of The Cat in the Hat, did not represent “fair use” of the children’s book under the Copyright Act. In 2019, Seuss entered litigation with ComicMix, the creator of Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!
(“Boldly”), another self-proclaimed parody of the Dr. Seuss classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (“Go!”). The case presented a set of facts strikingly similar to those in Penguin. In Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. v. ComicMix LLC, the district court held that Boldly, despite structural similarities with The Cat in the Hat, constituted a “fair use” of Dr. Seuss’s seminal work under the Copyright Act. The court held, First Amendment protections immunized Boldly from Seuss’s claim of trademark infringement under the Lanham Act. The court granted ComicMix’s motion for summary judgment on both claims.
The Ninth Circuit reinforced its prior holdings and Supreme Court precedent regarding ”fair use” under the Copyright and Lanham Acts. The Supreme Court tacitly reaffirmed established precedent regarding both copyright and trademark fair use by denying ComicMix’s petition for certiorari.
CASE SUMMARY: DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES V. COMICMIX LLC: NINTH CIRCUIT AFFIRMS COPYRIGHT FAIR USE AND TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT PRECEDENTS, 52 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.