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Copyright Law

Cheesehead Owner Threatens Suit re Grim Reaper’s Headgear on Billboard Warning of Dairy Food Danger

Posted Sep 26, 2011 6:54 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The owner of the rights to the infamous Foamation triangular cheesehead worn by fans of the Green Bay Packers is demanding that a group of physicians rethink a planned billboard in which the Grim Reaper, wearing an apparent cheesehead, warns of the danger of eating the dairy food.

"Warning: Cheese can sack your health: Fat. Cholesterol. Sodium," says the billboard that Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine is putting near Highway 41 in De Pere. But the billboard's use of the iconic headgear isn't licensed, and hence the Grim Reaper is going to have to wear a different hat, a Foamation representative tells WTMJ.

"We were aware before we put up the billboard that the cheesehead is a copyrighted thing. If we were in the business of selling souvenirs to Packers fans, we would be violating the copyright of Foamation, which owns the copyright to the cheesehead. We're not doing that," countered Dan Kinburn, who serves as general counsel to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and contends the doctors have a constitutional right to use the cheesehead.

"It's a parody. We're not denigrating the cheesehead," he continued. "We just want people to understand that by choosing a diet that's high in meat and high in cheese, they're choosing a diet that's going to lead to illness and death."

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