Saying Goodbye to the Bunny.

It’s a strangely bitter sweet time today, as I announce the retirement of the Bunny character from this website.  But it turns it out, it’s for a VERY good reason.

Well, good for me and my family, anyway.

Long time readers of the blog know I’ve had a lawsuit running against the Beanie Baby people going on for fourteen years now, involving their unauthorized use of my trademarks and character likeness with their “Nibbler the Rabbit” character, first introduced in 1998.

This is "Nibbler", introduced in 1998 by Ty Inc. (the Beanie Baby people).

I’ve owned and used the “Ty Bunny” character since the late 80s,
and have been vigorously defending the property, sometimes at great cost to myself.  My friends have been with me as this case has gone through three rounds of appellate courts, each one reversing the previous decision like it was a game of tennis, all the while keeping a HUGE chunk of my money tied up in this litigation.

Brief history, in case you didn’t know it:  The “Ty-Bunny” character first showed up in 1987 in a comic book called “Critters”.

That's not the bunny, that's Teddy Payne, a stuffed bear who plays rock and roll.

The comic came with a flexi-disc single featuring two songs, one performed by myself and one performed by Alan Moore.  The story that went with the music single was called “A Right to the Blues”.

Written and drawn by yours truly, inked by Anthony Van Bruggen.

The rabbit was a minor character, he tended bar in the story and only showed up in a few panels.

Like up there, for instance.

But soon he started appearing as my “alter ego” in comic strips and stories in various publications all through the late 80s and early 90s.

Here's an appearance from DC Comics' "SHOP TALK" in 1996.

AND, far more importantly, below is the Ty-Bunny stuffed animal toy I sold throughout the 90s, at conventions, personal appearances, and through mail order ads in the back of indy comics like Critters, starting in 1994.

We sold a total of fifty-six of these. I still have a box or two of them in the crawlspace of my house.

Why this all matters, is that I had to get a registered trade mark on the character, design and name “Ty Bunny” when I sold these toys across interstate lines at American conventions.  I registered the trademark in 1994, and have copyrights going back to the eighties.

But Ty Inc.’s “NIBBLER” came out in 1998, four full years after I had registered the name and logo.

Which they clearly infringed, intentionally or not.

It’s not my fault that the Ty-Warner corporation (as it was known at the time) didn’t do due diligence on the trademark, but I own it, and still do.

Which means you cannot sell "Nibbler" or "Baby Nibbler" seen above, released in 2001, without my permission.

We’ve been fighting back and forth about this for literally 14 years, and finally, finally FINALLY, I got the cheque that’s been due me for 11 of those years, by courier on Saturday.

I’m not allowed to disclose the amount, but it’s worth more than my house.

So, yay.

There's just one teeny catch...

One catch, though. I’m no longer allowed to use the Tybunny character here on the blog.  It’s part of the settlement.

This is something I fought for a long time, but the cash amount is remarkably generous, all things considered, and I’m willing to live with the terms of it. We’re talking high-ish six figures.  That’s non-trivial to my family, and goes a long way to paying off the bills I’ve run up fighting this, with a little left over to make it all worth it.

It doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing my Bun Toons, I just won’t be allowed to use the rabbit any more. I’ll find a way around it, probably something squirrel based, or perhaps I’ll do more with Cows.

But this will have to go.

Monday: I’m buying myself a new car. My first out-of-the-showroom-car in my life!

My mother is crazy happy about this. Apparently, now, I’ve amounted to something, because I can pay off my mortgage and my VISA card in one day. I’m just happy to be out of court after all these years. It drains a person.

I’m probably not going to move, I’m just going to pay off the house, and get the garage insulated. Might even buy a cottage property. Too much to think about today.

I’ll miss the rabbit, but I won’t miss handing the bank my mortgage payment each month.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Stick around for more news on the NEW mascot, starting next week!

Here now, your LAST Bonus Bunny Moment:

I'll miss the little rodent. It's been a fun ride.

32 responses to “Saying Goodbye to the Bunny.

  1. And a happy first day of April to you too!

  2. Good for you. Though I was hoping that at some point there would be a collected edition of the buntoons. Does this mean that those are gone forever, that you’d have to redraw the strips to reprint them, or what? Quite frankly, when I read the headline I was hoping that the bunny would be absent “temporarily” because you signed a deal to do MORE with the character. Here’s looking forward to your new “Avatar”.

  3. Now my bunny con sketch will be worth millions! Great news Ty.

  4. Good timing, as a certain other bunny tends to grab the spotlight and take first place during this month… if ya know what I mean. ;)

  5. Ohhhhh, I can see from the first couple of comments that this will go on for a while. No reveals though people, see how many…

    Cheers!

    Steven Willis
    XOWComics.com

  6. The reveal here is that Teddy Payne did not play Rock and Roll, he was a blues player.

  7. http://www.pinupsheroines.com/pinups/pinup-Bunny-Yeager.html
    Do you have to share the settlement with Bunny Yeager?

  8. Im glad you have a satisfactory settlement, Ty, although I will miss the Tybunny. Oh, well. Can I borrow the cottage for a guys weekend after you buy? We prefer the Muskoka’s, btw. Please keep this mind while shopping.

  9. How fortuitous that this all occurs on this, the 1st day of April. You would have been a fool, Sir, an unmitigated FOOL, to have turned down such a generous offer. Felicitations to you and your family.

  10. This whole thing reminds me of the Arne Anka story…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arne_Anka#The_Disney_threat

  11. Wow! Congratulations Ty on your battle well fought and won!
    This is bittersweet for you and for your fans but now you can move onto something just as nifty as Ty-Bunny.
    I loved your littleTy -Bunny because he was cute, fun, insightful and often made me laugh. :-)
    So is the use of your Ty-Bunny retroactive or is it from the settlement date on?
    And can you still sell those little Ty-bunnies of your’s or not? I think they are adorable.
    Again fantastic news for you and your loved ones and also for believing in yourself (because litigation can be taxing emotionally, mentally and physically on you and your family) and for staying the course.
    But I must say because of this settlement and announcement you have now broken my dream that all this time a very cute sentient bunny was running this blog.
    :-)

  12. Is there any truth to the rumour, posted on the Comics Litigation web forum, that your physical appearance is one of the terms of the settlement? Specifically, since the Ty Bunny is a graphical interpretation of you (and vice versa), it was reported that you will be required to wear pants in all future public appearances, so as to avoid confusion with the Beanie Babies trademark. Can you comment on this? If you don’t mind my saying so, a Ty with pants is like a cigar-free Wolverine.

    • I know you’ve been following this story at the Comics Litigation web forum, as we’ve talked about it over there a number of times. 1) Yes, you’re right, I have to wear pants in public as a result of this, but not to avoid confusion with the trademark, but to avoid any more arrests. And 2) The rabbit is a version of me, not the other way around. This was much deliberated, and finally overturned from the disastrous second trial.

  13. CONGRATULATIONS, TY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That was a truly inspiring tale to read–and I’m very, very glad that it (finally) had a happy ending, for you and yours!

    Nice to know that perseverence pays off. Inspirational, really! Once again– CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (YAY!)

  14. Man, this was way more cruel than that “Earth exploded” thing on the BBC.

  15. Congratulations Ty!
    With all your hard work over the years, you really deserve this man!

  16. I vote for Ty the Cat.

  17. I suggest Ty the Jackelope – just draw antlers onto all the old drawings.

    Also, put some of those old Ty dolls up for sale!

    https://twitter.com/#!/Norms_Brain

  18. Heywood Jablomee

    I sure hope you already drew my birthday card with the bunny…Hate to see you break any copy right laws.

    I’ll be happy with a lucky rabbit’s foot (not so much for the bunny)

  19. Travis Pelkie

    How ’bout Ty the Fly?

    Ah, well, tomorrow is another date…

    On another note, what’s Mr. Van Bruggen doing?

  20. Nice to see one of the good guys win in the end.

    Shame to see the rabbit go, but I good to hear he’s going for a good cause, to line a cartoonists pockets. There is no finer death for a character.

  21. How about Ty the White Hamster with slightly big ears? Ahn, got it? *** wink, wink ***

  22. Congrats!!!! That’ such awesome new, though sad too see the bunny go. Perhaps The Director as your new mascot? I would squee and fall over in fan girl joy.

  23. Travis Pelkie

    I assume, then, that a bunch of the comments that revealed the truth were “muted”, as it were, until it became the second. I figured I’d play along, since it seemed all the comments I could see were taking things seriously.

    No really, I swear I knew it was a joke!

  24. Yes, Travis, as part of the gag, I was holding everyone who called out the gag for 24 hours. They all were put back into the thread today, where they originally belonged too, by my delightfully efficient wife. As a play fair creator, the April Fool’s was clearly readable in my tags, inches away from the button you click to enter the comments forum, so I did allow ONE person to spoil the gag, and that was me, in an Easter Egg. Head up to the top of this forum and read the tags that were always there.

    Whee hee.

    Ty the Guy

    • Travis Pelkie

      Well, yeah, since I’d seen the tags, I wondered why it seemed no one else had either.

      Did your arm ever heal up right after doing that Turn out the Dark mini? :)

    • Pretty elaborate gag–and it got me good (I never remember April Fool’s…) Wish it was real though, ’cause I was pretty happy for you!

      Yea, verily yay…

  25. Sonuva…can’t believe I fell for that. So no Muskoka cottage?

  26. oh, please do another bunny >< the bunny suit suited you ;)

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