Harper Lee’s Strange Quest to Trademark “To Kill a Mockingbird” (An Update)


Harper Lee’s quest to control the culture related to her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, returns to federal court after the out-of-court settlement between Lee and the Monroe County Heritage Museum fell through. A trial is set for November 2014.

PREVIOUS UPDATE (about the settlement reached in February 2014):

Author Harper Lee and the Monroe County Heritage Museum have reached a settlement over Lee’s lawsuit against the Museum for alleged trademark violations. Prior to the settlement, the judge had denied the Museum’s motion to dismiss the case. As I wrote in the post below, though, I found the Museum’s opposition to Lee’s trademark application very persuasive.

The terms of the settlement to the lawsuit are undisclosed at this time, but they are presumably in Lee’s favor. I don’t know what the terms are, but it looks like Lee has been permitted to claim ownership over every aspect of culture related to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Maybe next she’ll sue the state of Alabama for continuing to exist without paying royalties to her.

*Obviously, a sarcastic comment.

For more information on Lee’s actions against the Museum, see the post below:

The Misfortune Of Knowing

TKaMB 123Harper Lee, the typically reclusive 87-year-old author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has made headlines twice over the last year by (1) initiating litigation against her former agent and by (2) filing an application to trademark the title of her famous—and only—published work, at least as the title is used on clothing.

Earlier this month, as I’ve discussed previously on this blog, Ms. Lee settled the lawsuit against her former agent, Samuel L. Pinkus. It was a sad case, if the allegations are true, alleging that Mr. Pinkus breached his fiduciary duties and manipulated Ms. Lee into assigning away the copyright to her classic novel (though still providing her some royalties) by taking advantage of the aging author’s declining health.

As for the second item listed above, even though Ms. Lee applied for a trademark of the phrase “To Kill a Mockingbird” on clothing with the U.S. Patent…

View original post 1,086 more words


  1. Makes you wonder if the museums in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, should be sending Bill Murray a check every time somebody buys a Groundhog Day shirt. Or if Harper Lee should be sending Monroe County a portion of the royalties from her book; after all, that’s their county she put in her book.

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