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