August 24, 2006 11:32 AM PDT

Barney the dinosaur sued after legal threats

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Barney, the plush purple saurian, likes to sing about love, hugs and kisses.

But the dinosaur's lawyers have taken precisely the opposite view when threatening Web sites that display less-than-flattering images of the plump T-Rex--a legal tactic that finally led to a lawsuit on Wednesday from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Barney
Credit: Stuart Frankel

The suit, filed in federal district court in New York, argues that trademark claims by Barney's owners have threatened "free expression rights" by trying to rid the Internet of Barney parodies and negative depictions. The trademark is owned by Lyons Partnership.

EFF and the Akin Gump law firm are representing Stuart Frankel, who maintains the "Source of All Evil" site with a rendering of a vaguely Satanic cartoon tyrannosaur. Frankel writes: "The Barney Creature is a voracious, bottomless pit. All who oppose it with ridicule must be destroyed."

Matthew Carlin, an associate at the New York firm of Gibney Anthony and Flaherty, sent at least four threatening e-mail messages to Frankel starting in February 2002. Each demands the removal of the Barney pages and threatens immediate legal action unless the pages are deleted.

Carlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

This is hardly the first time that Barney's attorneys have tried to stamp out criticism of the rotund children's show character.

Matthew W. Carlin
Matthew W. Carlin
Barney's attorney

Last year, Carlin threatened Baltimore-area programmer Rob Carlson whose Web site features a photograph of a Barney toy suspended from the ceiling.

Barney's lawyers once sued the creator of a sports mascot that, as part of its performance, assaulted and generally did violence to a Barney look-alike.

But the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1999 that the performance was a parody and not forbidden by trademark law. "Even if young children--like the 2-year-old who had such a traumatic reaction to the down-trodden Barney--are in attendance, we would expect them to be supervised by parents who could explain the nature of the parody," the court decided.

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13 comments

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Too funny
This is too funny. Look at the guys picture he looks like Barney himself lol. Don't mess with the EFF!
Posted by kyle172 (65 comments )
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Go Barney!
I hope Barney wins. Yes, I believe in freedom of speech, but I also think we should be responsible for what we say. Just because someone is able to, through much time and hard work, build a successful icon like Barney, shouldn't give twisted people the right to tarnish that image publicly. Our laws exist to protect our right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I don't see how bashing barney encompasses any of these, but do see how it harms the rights of Barney's investors. Freedom requires respect and is quite ugly without it.
Posted by BengalTigger (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sure...
you believe in freedom of speech... as long as the other guy agrees with you. Riiiight.
Posted by GlennAl (25 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Go Barney!
I understand what you're saying, and I totally respect it. I agree absolutely that we should be responsible for what we say.
I disagree, however, that freedom requires respect. Yes, freedom certainly can and does get quite ugly, but that's freedom. Freedom, in my opinion, requires tolerance of that which you disagree with more than anything else in the world (provided of course that nobody's being hurt and all that jazz).
Personally, I think the whole Barney thing is kinda funny, but there's plenty out there that gets me red in the face just to think about! I won't give examples here - there are more appropriate places for that - but suffice it to say that, while something may be hateful, inappropriate, or just downright offensive, I believe that living in a free society means developing the knack for putting up with it.
Whew.
Posted by normalityrelief (4 comments )
Link Flag
RE: Go Barney!
Dude, how many episodes have u been forced to watch w/ ur lil' cousin, me:37 you:? and yes i do keep tabs, and BTW i set my background and MSN display pic to that!
Posted by chris11-1 (15 comments )
Link Flag
THAT NOT NICE MY FOR YEAR OLD SON WILL START CRYING IF HE SAW THIS BOLGS AND CRAZY THIS PITCHURE SHOULD BE REMOVED
Posted by AKINTGEN (2 comments )
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Barney
Amazing what people get paid to do
Posted by sphannan (1 comment )
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A Great Big Hug from the Barristers
I sue you, You sue me, We're a litigious family.
Posted by darthgerber (85 comments )
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barney turned my life around
besides giving me hope, and the chance to have a better tomorrow, barney taught me valuable lessons about life. lessons that i share everyday with the people who work for me. i really dont know if i could have built a fortune 100 company without barney in my life. i still remember when barney first came on the air, it must have been 1991, yes, it had to have been 1991. while i dont need to get into the depths of what i was into at that point in time, suffice it to say, barney is true hero. an american hero, a hero for the world to look up to. you may laugh and joke about barney, but deep down inside you need to figure out "what is it that is so important that this dinosaur is telling me?" whenever i am feeling down, i often find myself, every so slightly, mouthing "i love you, you love me, we're a happy family, with a great big..." and while you laugh, and pretend at work like you are too cool or too old to watch barney anymore, just remember those words. remember what it is that makes a hero a real hero. barney, to you, i am forever indebted.
Posted by jdparkin (2 comments )
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Not tech news
Just becuase they have a website does not make it tech news. This is garbage and should be removed.

KieranMullen
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
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It's not too difficult to comprehend
"Tech" is more than hardware, software, and other things that are tangible. It's also about concepts, theories, and yes, even legal issues. Get over it, Barney hugger.



;)
Posted by ejevo (134 comments )
Link Flag
This is crazy
Ya know people need to mind there own dam business! People are so sue happy!

I been watching barney for 13 years I love Barney he has taught not only my children alot of things but me as well!

People need to stop reading cause people make up stories! If you didn;t get this form the source than don't believe!poeple always are out for a dollar!

Barney we love you!
Posted by jennifers3rdbaby (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
THATS THE CRAZYEST I EVER HEARD MY SON WATCHES IT ALL THE TIME IF HE EVER SAW IT HE WOOD CRY HE IS ONLY FOR YEARS SO BE IT HE DOUSET LOOK LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I SO PISSIT OFF
Posted by AKINTGEN (2 comments )
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