Power Rangers Costume Copyright Suit

The "evil" MyPartyShirt.Com Pink Power Ranger.

THREsq reports that the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers are at the center of a lawsuit.  Or, at least their super hero costumes are.

In case you are not familiar with the Power Rangers, this paragraph from the Complaint provides a concise description of the long-running show.

In . . . 1993, . . . Saban Entertainment created and produced a new, live action children’s television series featuring a team of costumed, teenage superheroes called the “Power Rangers.”  Although the Power Rangers series has evolved over the years, each “Power Rangers” season features a small group of teenagers who “morph” from ordinary people into powerful superhero alter-egos for the purpose of defeating evil forces threatening humanity.  Once “morphed,” the Power Rangers wear distinctive signature color-coded battle suits from which the y take their respective names.  Past seasons have included some combination of:  Red, Yellow, Blue, Pink, Green, Black, White, and Gold Rangers.  (SCG Compl. ¶ 7.)

According to the complaint, the Power Rangers are taking on a powerful new enemy . . . alleged costume copyright infringer Underdog Endeavors (doing business as MyPartyShirt.com).

MyPartyShirt.Com sells costumes that look a lot like the ones on the show.   They also sell a much sexier version of the costume.

The "evil" MyPartyShirt.Com Pink Power Ranger heading to a club.

Not surprising, the Power Rangers sued MyPartyShirt.com to make them stop.

As THREsq. indicates, whether a particular costume is protected by copyright is complicated — “the Copyright Act doesn’t permit a ‘useful article’ such as clothing to be copyrighted, insofar as the item in question ‘has an intrinsic utilitarian function that is not merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information’ . . . .However, the copyrighting of ‘pictorial, graphic, or sculptural’ is permitted, which leads some attorneys to conclude that garments may include protected individual design elements.”

So what does this mean?  Will the Power Rangers have to summon a mechanical monster to defeat this enemy?  Or will a simple injunction save the day?

In my opinion, the Power Rangers face long odds in their legal battle.  The pink Lycra bodysuit isn’t particularly distinctive.  It is what any girl ninja would wear.  There is no logo on the suit.  The diamond emblem has changed several times over the years.

It is likely that this case will quietly settle.  And, you will be able to continue to buy knockoff costumes of your favorite characters.

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~ by siouxsielaw on October 31, 2011.

3 Responses to “Power Rangers Costume Copyright Suit”

  1. For some reason, this reminds me an awful lot of the craziness that hit Target stores a few years back.

    The manufactured outrage centered around an alien costume. That’s not so unusual, but the alien also had a green card that you could carry around; and also wore an orange jumpsuit with the word “illegal” stenciled on the back.

    It drives me nuts at times when I see incidents like this- Because in the long run, that’s all it will be: Just an incident. However, it will go one step further in bumping up the costs in a legal system plagued by the frivolous behavior of lawsuit floozies.*

    *NOTE: Only those who engage in frivolous litigation qualify for the title “lawsuit floozy.” Other terms and conditions may apply, see commentator for details. The opinions expressed by this commentator do not necessarily reflect those of the hosting site, or those of the amazing and talented Siouxsie Law.

  2. Personally, I prefer the evil, sexy one!

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