Who Owns The Copyright To Left Shark?

By Joseph Mandour on February 13, 2015

sharkSan Diego – Katy Perry’s half-time routine at the Super Bowl has continued to be in the spotlight weeks after the show aired. Her performance and vocals are not the sole cause. Instead it is her fascinating backup dancers.

The “Left Shark” in Perry’s beach themed show has become popular as the dancing shark didn’t appear to know what it was doing. The awkward shark has gone viral as a result and both the left and right sharks have appeared on talk shows and are becoming celebrities.

Replica figurines and clothing portraying the “Left Shark” have been sold online by a number of vendors, most notably by Fernando Sosa. Mr. Sosa designs 3D images and figures and was actually the recipient of a cease and desist letter sent by lawyers representing Perry.

Among other demands, the letter stressed that Sosa remove the products from his website and turn the merchandise over to the opposing counsel. But what about the “Right Shark”? The letter also purported to clarify that Katy Perry owns “both shark images and costumes” that were depicted in the half time show. Along with this, any representation of either shark without Perry’s approval would allegedly be a violation of her intellectual property rights.

Sosa claimed that he did not want to be subject to legal threats and decided to defend his creative use of the shark merchandise.

Sosa’s representative Chris Sprigman replied to the letter while adding some demands of his own. The reply demanded answers to several questions, including questing how Perry could own a copyright to a shark costume. Sprigman also suggested that if someone did indeed own a copyright to the costume, it would likely be the NFL or the designer behind the creation of the sharks, not Perry.

The retort also claimed that outfits or costumes are not easily copyrightable thus it is questionable whether the shark costumes are subject to copyright rights at all. Katy Perry’s lawyers have not yet replied to the letter, perhaps because they realize proving ownership of any copyright will likely be extremely difficult.

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