The company that owns the copyright to popular US cartoon character Barney the purple dinosaur has come under attack after it threatened a man who parodies the character on the web.
Online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said that it is challenging Lyons Partnership's 'cease and desist' letter.
"Whether analysed as a matter of trademark dilution or copyright infringement, your claims are baseless," EFF legal counsel Cindy Cohn told the company.
Stuart Frankel's website portrays Barney as a demon-eyed purple beast with satanic symbols on his chest. The site refers to Barney as "The Enemy".
"The Enemy is concerned with selling itself. It has turned the Public Broadcasting System into a merchandise mart and cleverly insinuated its cheesy products into the most treacly websites," it says.
After Frankel received a second letter from Lyons he retained EFF attorneys to represent him in a possible lawsuit.
The EFF had received a similar letter from Lyons last year after it featured its own Barney parody on its website.
The Lyons letter stated: "Barney has come to be recognised as a distinctive and famous trademark and service mark. Lyons vigorously objects to the unsavoury and unwholesome content that you have associated with its trademark and service mark, Barney."
The EFF has declined to take the site down and sent a letter to Lyons claiming that legal precedents protect parodies as free speech.
The EFF letter stated: "As they were when you threatened the EFF directly, your claims are baseless and a misuse of your copyrights. We once again urge you to cease threatening non-commercial hosts of parodical material.
"We will both defend against your claims with all of the means at our disposal and will seek appropriate affirmative relief."
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