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Warner Bros. sues 'Harry Potter'-themed store Whimsic Alley

The studio seeks to stop the L.A. store from selling items that it says infringe on its trademarks. Whimsic Alley sells some licensed 'Harry Potter' merchandise, but many of its wares are unofficial.

October 22, 2013|By Daniel Miller

Whimsic Alley calls itself "a shopping haven for wizards of distinction," catering to "Harry Potter" fans with merchandise that includes wands, books, neckties and sweater vests for those looking to re-create the boy wizard's look.

It even has a Hogwarts-style "Great Hall" that can be rented out for children's birthday parties and is reminiscent of a hall of the same name in the "Harry Potter" series' fictional boarding school for wizards, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Now the Miracle Mile shop is the target of a lawsuit filed by Warner Bros., distributor of the "Harry Potter" movies and since 1998 the owner of the bulk of the "Potter" trademarks.

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The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeks to stop Whimsic Alley owner Stanley Goldin from selling goods that it says infringe on the studio's "Harry Potter" trademarks, and seeks unspecified monetary damages. A trial is set for January.

Both Goldin and Warner Bros. declined to comment, but legal analysts say it's no surprise that Warner's consumer products division would want to guard its lucrative "Potter" franchise against imitators.

"This guy is getting as close to the line as possible and maybe crosses it," said Allen Grodsky, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property litigation and reviewed the case for The Times. Whimsic Alley "isn't going to hurt them that much, but if this guy is going to be allowed to do this, then anybody can do it."

The studio, which released eight "Potter" movies that, combined, grossed more than $7.7 billion in theaters worldwide, is preparing to launch a new film series from "Potter" author J.K. Rowling, who will write the first installment's screenplay. The new franchise is based on a short volume from the "Potter" canon: 2001's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

"In the right hands, per movie, they should make approximately $100 million from licensing income from toys, apparel and stuff like that," said Lutz Muller, chief executive of Klosters Trading Corp., a consumer products consulting firm in Williston, Vt.

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The "Potter" brand also is spawning two new Universal Studios theme park attractions, including a Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan and a similar project at Universal Studios Hollywood that could open in 2016.

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