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Trademark dispute over groundhog Punxsutawney Phil settled
June 29, 2011 / 5:35 PM / 6 years ago

Trademark dispute over groundhog Punxsutawney Phil settled

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - The trademark owners of the world’s most famous groundhog said on Wednesday they reached a settlement with a television network that used images of Punxsutawney Phil and Gobbler’s Knob in a Super Bowl ad.

<p>Official Groundhog Handler Ben Hughes holds Punxsutawney Phil after Phil made his annual Groundhog Day prediction on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, February 2, 2011. REUTERS/ Jason Cohn</p>

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club had sent a cease-and-desist letter to the network before the broadcast of the advertisement featuring Pittsburgh Steelers star safety Troy Polamalu during the 2010 Super Bowl, said Mike Johnston, club vice president.

The network disregarded the letter, so the club hired a Pittsburgh law firm to pursue a copyright infringement lawsuit, which was never filed, he said.

The two sides settled for an undisclosed amount about a month ago and finalized the agreement last Friday, Johnston said.

“It could have worked out better than it did, but ultimately it’s been put to bed,” he said.

As part of the settlement, the club granted TruTV a one-time use license for Punxsutawney Phil and Gobbler’s Knob. Each year on Groundhog Day the prognosticating rodent is pulled from a stump in western Pennsylvania to predict whether winter will last another six weeks or spring will come early.

In the commercial, for a National Football League show, a miniature version of Polamalu is yanked from the stump by his hair and sees his shadow, predicting six more weeks of football.

A TruTV spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune

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