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Family Fails To Reclaim Betty Boop Copyright

The family of the man who created Betty Boop has failed in a bid to be declared exclusive copyright and trademark owner over the iconic comic character.

Max Fleischer created Boop, the childish yet sophisticated character with big eyes and a button nose, in 1930. A decade later, Fleischer transferred rights to Paramount Pictures. Control over Boop changed hands a few more times in the next 70 years, and it was up to the Fleischer estate to establish a chain of custody that resulted in them reacquiring the character in 1997.

Affirming a district court decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the Fleischer estate had failed to do so in pressing a lawsuit against several companies that licensed Boop merchandise. In the decision, the appeals court finds that Fleischer failed to satisfy its burden of proof regarding the transfer of rights. Perhaps most important is the trademark issue. "If we ruled that [the defendant's] depictions of Betty Boop infringed Fleischer's trademarks," the judge wrote, "the Betty Boop character would essentially never enter the public domain."