Topps Sues Luis Diaz Over His Parody Of Their Parody – A Garbage Pail Court Case

Garbage Pail Kids is a line of cards and stickers initially published in the mid-eighties by Topps as a parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.

In May of 1986 (following the release of Original Series 3), Topps was sued by Original Appalachian Artworks for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition, reproduced below.

Topps attempted to argue that Garbage Pail Kids were a parody or satire of Cabbage Patch Kids, and therefore protected by the “fair use” defense to copyright infringement. However, after assessing all the factors, the court found that Topps was not protected under the fair use doctrine.

In August, 1986, Judge G. Ernest Tidwell ordered Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. to “stop producing Garbage Pail Kids stickers.” His ruling stated there is “a fine line between parody and piracy,” and that the stickers were simply “an attempt to make money.”

Eventually Topps signed an agreement with OAA that allowed them to continue producing Garbage Pail Kids stickers, but with changes to the model.

And recently, Topps revived the series, including work by Luis Diaz, an artist and cartoonist who has worked on IDW’s Wynonna Earp and was able to recreate the initial style successfully.

Feeling restricted by licensing guidelines, a few years later he then created his own line of cards, the Gavage Parody Kids, for his Luis Diaz Art line, aimed at his fans, which were more likely to parody other media.

They were also intended to go in further directions of taste beyond wherever even Topps would have gone.

In October, Topps has decided that its their turn to file a suit — against Luis Diaz, reproduced below. The parody that was sued by the original is now suing a parody of that parody.

They state:

“In late 2012, Topps discovered that Defendant was marketing and promoting a series of works under the brand ‘Garbage Parody Kids.’ In addition to using a trademark that is confusingly similar to the Topps Trademarks, including the identical GPK initials, Defendant had copied the distinctive trade dress of the Topps Trade Dress… Topps sent him a notice demanding that he cease his infringing conduct. Through his attorney, Defendant agreed to halt his misconduct. Believing that Defendant would honor his agreement… Topps recently discovered that Defendant continues to violate the intellectual property rights of Topps and is marketing a new set of Diaz GPK knock-offs (including some named ‘Gavage Parody Kids’) that infringe and dilute Topps’ Trademarks and Trade dress.”

They also spite specific recreations of Garbage Pail Kids characters, from Diaz.

On Facebook, Luis describes Topps as a “childish” company, saying:

[The company] doesn’t seem to like me because I showed them I could do my own Parody thing within the law and be celebrated by fans. They snubbed me from their “documentary” and steal my ideas fueling my fires even more while they immortalize me in “Garbage Pail Kids” History by taking me to court. The funny thing is I did it on the side with little to no money. I did it because the original trading cards opened up my mind and made me say “F-ck you!” to people like the ones that ended up buying the original company. You are the antithesis of the original. I never made bank on anything. So all I can say is Bring it on and You’re Welcome! I Will Own You!

I’m not sure if that will be read out in court, however.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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