Photographers have been warned about doing Grinch-themed photo shoots over the holidays due to “serious trademark infringement issues.”
Alongside traditional Santa photo sessions, Grinch-themed shoots are also popular among photographers during the Christmas period. However, photographers could allegedly risk being sued over this by Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
According to a report by Louisiana radio station 97.3 The Dawg, a social media post which cautioned photographers that using the Grinch theme for a shoot could attract legal action from Dr. Seuss Enterprises went viral among the lens community.
In the Facebook post, which amassed over 25,000 likes and 32,000 shares, Tennessee-based photographer Brittany Kay Photography reminded her followers that she would not be doing the Grinch-themed shoots over the holidays.
“Friendly reminder that doing Grinch photo sessions for a profit is a federal trademark infringement, and Dr. Seuss Int. literally hires out a team this time of year to reverse image search and sue photographers for profit,” Kay writes.
“So unless you got $120,000 for a license, that’s not a lawsuit you will win!
“This isn’t me trying to be a buzzkill. This is me just trying to protect newer photographers that aren’t aware of the situation.”
‘Cease and Desist Letters to Photographers’
As 97.3 The Dawg reports, Brittany Kay Photography provides no specific data on the likelihood of a photographer being sued by Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
However, according to an extensive report from TheLawTog.com which is cited by the radio station, Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ corporate counsel, Nicole Gates, reportedly sent cease and desist notices to infringing photographers who did Grinch-themed shoots.
And in 2019, PetaPixel covered an incident when Dr. Seuss Enterprises purportedly went on the offensive, sending an aggressive cease and desist letter to a photographer after their Grinch-themed holiday photo shoot went viral.
While TheLawTog.com, a resource dedicated to legal issues in photography, reported that it could not fully verify the legitimacy of these notices from Gates — they do reportedly align with standard legal practices in such cases.
When a photographer uses images from Grinch sessions for advertising purposes, this supposedly not only constitutes copyright infringement of the original photographer’s work but also risks infringing upon the intellectual property rights associated with the Grinch character.
TheLawTog.com describes how copyright protects artistic works, and trademark laws protect brand identities, like logos and names, from being used in a manner that causes consumer confusion. For photographers, using the Grinch character or even the term “The Grinch” in marketing or sales could be seen as a violation of these laws.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.