According to a California Federal District Court Judge, Warner Bros. (“That’s all folks!”) and its Chappell Music business unit do not own a valid copyright to “Happy Birthday to You.” The ruling was the result of a class action lawsuit that, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, puts the world’s most recognizable tune into the public domain. No ruling on who owns “That’s all folks!”
First of all, Chubby Checker is apparently still alive, and we have the court documents to prove it. Ernest Evans (Chubby’s real name) has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Wirkin Stiffs, the manufacturer of a line of Chubby Checker cufflinks, and against Macy's, Nordstrom, Amazon.com and other resellers of the allegedly infringing cufflinks.
Best known for his 60s hit, “The Twist,” Evans/Checker claims that endorsements and royalties on products that use the Chubby Checker trademark are an important part of his livelihood.
It is rare that an Appellate Court ruling shows any sense of humor, but it did in the case of one Mark Towle of Maryland who was accused of copyright infringement after driving around in a homemade roadster configured to look like the Batmobile. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Batmobile is indeed a copyrightable character owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
The court’s ruling began with “Holy copyright law, Batman!”