Harper Lee, Ala. Museum Settle 'Mockingbird' Infringement Suit

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on June 10, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," has agreed to settle her lawsuit against an Alabama museum that she accused of infringing on her trademark by selling "Mockingbird"-themed merchandise without a license.

According to Reuters, the two sides reached an undisclosed agreement to end the lawsuit, with both parties agreeing to pay their own legal fees.

What had Lee's feathers so ruffled?

The lawsuit, filed in 2010, alleged that the Monroe County Heritage Museum in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, used "protected names and trademarks" from Lee's classic book and the Academy Award-winning film of the same name without Lee's permission.

This allegedly included registration and use of the website ToKillAMockingbird.com as well as the sale of clothing and other merchandise featuring the novel's and Lee's name.

Along with an injunction against the museum, Lee's complaint sought damages for violation of federal trademark laws including the federal anti-cybersquatting statute. That law prohibits bad-faith registration of a domain name that is "confusingly similar or dilutive" to a famous or distinctive trademark which was famous or distinctive at the time it was registered.

Separate Licensing Lawsuit Also Settled

The settlement in this case comes after another case involving the licensing of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was settled last year.

In that case, Lee sued the son of her former agent, Samuel Pinkus, alleging that he had used her age and mental infirmities to get her to agree to assign the copyright to her book to Pinkus' company.

The terms of that settlement were likewise not disclosed.

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