Photo: Elena Ray /
23 May 2014Trademarks

To Kill a Mockingbird case reignited in US

To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee has reignited her trademark case against a US museum  after they failed to reach a settlement.

Lee had accused the Monroeville Museum in Alabama of trademark infringement over its sale of souvenirs and memorabilia featuring her name and the title of her only novel.

The author also accused the museum of using the book’s title as its website address without paying her compensation.

Lee announced in February that the two sides had reached an out-of-court settlement in the long-running dispute and that the pair were given 90 days to agree terms, which would have meant the deadline expired this month.

However, this week, Lee’s attorneys said they have reignited the case because the museum attempted to add new requests to the terms of the settlement.

In her lawsuit, originally filed in 2011, Lee accused the museum of earning more than $500,000 in that year by selling goods including aprons, kitchen towels and clothing emblazoned with the title of the novel and author.

The complaint, filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, said the To Kill a Mockingbird trademark had become well-known as identifying Harper Lee.

“The defendant’s use of the words, terms and name ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Harper Lee’ is likely to deceive the relevant public and trade as to the affiliation, connection, or association of defendant with the plaintiff,” the complaint said.

The museum is located in Monroeville, the town that inspired the setting for Lee's 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Officials at the museum claim Lee never demanded compensation before filing the lawsuit.

A trial date has been set for November this year.

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