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Cubs, 'Billy Cub' Reach Federal Court Settlement

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The guy who ran around in a bear suit asking for tips won't be seen doing that ever again.

You won't see this sight around Wrigley Field any more
You won't see this sight around Wrigley Field any more
Photo by Danny Rockett (Photo illustration: Mike Bojanowski)

In a federal court ruling dated September 29, the Chicago Cubs, John Paul Weier, Patrick Weier and "Does 1-3" (the five individuals who, at various times, wore the "Billy Cub" costume around Wrigley Field) have come to an agreement, called an "Agreed Permanent Injunction." That means the end of seeing these people dressed up in a bear suit, walking around the area near Wrigley Field trying to have photos taken with fans and carrying a cooler marked "Tips."

Before I get into the detail of the ruling, here's a bit of the history: This character wasn't associated with the Cubs, but the costume and presence made some people think it was. As you might imagine, that didn't make team officials very happy. Neither did his getting into a fight at a Wrigleyville-area bar after someone pulled his bear costume head off, which I wrote about last April:

The Cubs certainly do have the right to fight against someone whose persona implies that he is affiliated with the team, especially when he's not a very nice person mascot guy dressed up in a bear suit. Again, what he's doing is really not much more than panhandling, and I don't ever see him with a license for such things.

The incident over the weekend where this guy slugged someone who took his bear costume head off (and let's also stipulate that neither individual in that incident was right) should galvanize the Cubs into action. No other team has to deal with this sort of thing, and the Cubs certainly shouldn't. They have every right to protect their brand and marketing strategy.

The Cubs brought this action for "trademark infringement and dilution of the Cubs' trademarks," according to the two-page ruling, which states that:

  • The Weiers will "immediately and forever cease and desist" all activities related to Billy Cub, even if they don't have any Cubs trademarks on them, and "shall prohibit any third parties under their control" from doing the same.
  • The Weiers will stop making any "public display" of Billy Cub, stop mentioning them in any media, and agree to not doing any other act which could "suggest or create the impression of, an association or affiliation with, endorsement or sponsorship of or by, Cubs, Wrigley Field or elements thereof such as bricks, ivy or the marquee or scoreboard."
  • The Weiers were required to deliver all their bear costumes to the Cubs by September 29.
  • If the Weiers create another "character costume, other than a bear or Cub costume as prohibited above," they are similarly prohibited from doing anything that might cause "likelihood of confusion" with any of the Cubs' trademarks or that of any other Major League Baseball team, and they can't do anything that suggests the Cubs or MLB endorses or has any association with them.

As you know, the Cubs have their own mascot, "Clark." As I wrote last April, one of the reasons Weier created Billy Cub in the first place was to try to be hired as the Cubs' official mascot. That wasn't really the right way to go about it, and once the Cubs did create a mascot, he really ought to have stopped. This agreement seems reasonable, and you won't see anyone in a bear suit panhandling for tips outside Wrigley Field any more. Cubs spokesman Julian Green told me, "We are happy to have this issue resolved so fans have a clear understanding of who our team mascot is when they are visiting or attending a game at Wrigley Field."

One of the most interesting things about reading this court decision was "Exhibit A," attached to the back of the two-page decision. It contains all of the Cubs' logos, wordmarks and other things that the Cubs have trademarked, including the dates that each mark was trademarked and what uses each mark have, some going back as far as the 1960s.

Finally, I know we have some lawyers posting here -- if you are interested in looking up this settlement yourself, it's Case No. 14-CV-5007, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.