Friday, September 08, 2006

Paul Frank Was Their Friend

The long, sad story of Paul Frank's falling out with his partners in Paul Frank Industries is well documented in Vanity Fair. Beyond the interesting study of the all too typical "it's not personal, it's business" scenario, which doesn't paint any of the players in a particularly friendly light, a couple of things stood out.

First, the discussion of how Paul Frank Industries' enforcement of the Paul Frank trademark appears to be hampering Paul Frank (the man) in his attempts to seek new employment or start a new venture presents a pretty mind-bending problem. And Paul Frank Industries' claim that their namesake's name isn't Paul Frank but Paul Sunich (Frank is his middle name), legalities aside, strikes me as terribly petty.

Second, the article notes that after the falling out, Paul Frank (the man) registered the copyright in Julius the Monkey, then sued Paul Frank Industries for copyright infringement. Faced with this, Paul Frank Industries apparently "stumbled upon" a writing signed by Paul Frank in which he assigned his rights in Julius to the company. I'm sorry, stumbled upon? We're talking about the iconic figure upon whom the company was built, and not only did they not think to register the copyright in it previously, but they had to go hunting for the assignment agreement? That's the sort of document you have locked away in a two-ton vault, not floating around in the bottom of a desk drawer.

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