|PERCY L. CROSBY
His Life and Times (1891-1964)
I have received communications from several people in regards to a David versus Goliath battle between the family of the creator of the Skippy character and a multinational corporation over a trademark. I normally confine my activities to patent issues but this case is so similar to the abuse which inventors suffer at the hands of big companies that I found it hard to resist. This is an interesting human interest story that deserves to be told. It spans three generations of the Crosby family. At the heart of the story is a frisky mid sixty year old lady who is the subject of very hardball legal attacks by Bestfoods.
The tactics used by Bestfoods and the other companies involved are truly despicable. There is, in my view, compelling evidence of corruption and influence. It appears to me that charges that Bestfoods has committed crimes have merit. I suspect that Bestfoods actions are driven by a combination of arrogance and desperation. Desperation in that a family which they thought they could crush keeps coming back, generation after generation. If the family does prevail, Bestfoods could lose hundreds of millions of dollars, and there is a possibility that some of their management team could be prosecuted for criminal activity. Having looked at the case, I believe there is evidence of RICO actionable wrongdoing.
The story continues to unfold. Last week Bestfoods filed suit to try and force the Crosby family, namely Joan Crosby Tibbetts, to not tell her story via Internet of how Bestfoods came to acquire rights to the Skippy trademark. This is a blatant attempt to abridge this family's first amendment rights.
This morning, 8-12-99, Mrs. Tibbetts informed me that the judge in the case called her at home and verbally ordered her to take all the material down off the web site ( www.Skippy.com ) to which Bestfoods objects by 5:00 PM 8-13-99 or face contempt charges.
I have reviewed Bestfoods wish list for what they think should be removed, and it amounts to nothing less than an attempt to rewrite the history of this case. An attempt to expand a court order which gave Bestfoods rights to the Skippy trademark for use with food products and which further ordered Mrs. Tibbetts not to represent that she had rights to the trademark for foods or to try and sell such rights. She has done nothing which violates that order and therefore should not be held in contempt. It is my view that Bestfoods, and the judge, are trying to stop Mrs. Tibbetts from telling the story of how they have stomped on these peoples rights and made a mockery of the law and justice.
What if the maker of Skippy peanut butter (Bestfoods) never owned the Skippy trademark?
What if the trademark was owned by a 66 year old widow in Virginia?
Since Skippy was a famous cartoon character in the 1920's and 1930 and trademarked by his creator, how could Skippy be used? Skippy was all over the place, on billboards with his bucket of paint and white board fence. He was the subject of an academy award winning movie in 1931. The creator of Skippy and his company Skippy Inc. licensed products from wagons to food. Skippy was on the covers of Life magazine and in comic strips. The US Post Office even created a Skippy stamp- in honor of the little guy and his antics.
The creator of Skippy had trademarks in 1925 onward.
So how did Best Foods manage to use Skippy on their Peanut Butter?
Was it simple plagiarism? Fraud on the Patent and Trademark Office? A crass attempt to ride on the little guy's shirttails--selling their product using the character's wide popularity to trick the public??
According to the records Best Foods (previously CPC) acquired it from Rosefield Packing Co.
But what if Rosefield didn't own the trademark??
What does Skippy, Inc. v. CPC International, Inc. case mean for Bestfoods today? (case 674 F. 2d 209 4th Circuit 1982)? It appears that the Court stood by a long ago 1933 Decision by the patent office that Percy Crosby and Skippy Inc. could contest Rosefield's attempt to trademark Skippy.
Does it mean that Bestfoods owes this 66 year old widow Joan Crosby Tibbetts--daughter and heir to Skippy creator Percy Crosby-- decades worth of royalties? Since Skippy is one of Bestfoods BIGGEST and long-term products, would the royalties (and interest) be in the tens of millions of dollars --hundreds of millions of dollars?
What if Bestfoods has been battling Ms. Tibbetts for decades in the court--waiting for her to die?
What if Bestfoods, who touts Skippy
peanut butter image as wholesome, has a dirty little
|SKIPPY and the image of the character
SKIPPY are trademarks and copyrights of SKIPPY, INC.
Neither these marks nor the copyrighted works of Percy
Crosby may be used without the permission of SKIPPY, INC.
For information about licensing these images and
trademarks, please comenntact Joan Crosby Tibbetts at SKIPPY, INC. firstname.lastname@example.org
Joan Crosby Tibbetts, President, Skippy Incorporated
|Skippy Logo CENSORED|