Trials & Litigation

Trademark battle begins over name and Twitter account of captured black bear 'Meatball'

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Black bear. Image from Shutterstock.

For a while, it looked like there wasn’t much of a future for California black bear with a taste for the finer things in life.

Captured twice in the Glendale area, where he enjoyed foraging around homes for human food and taking an occasional dip in residents’ swimming pools, “Meatball” was slated for euthanization by state wildlife officials when efforts to relocate him far away in the Angeles National Forest were unsuccessful. But a social media campaign spearheaded by Sarah Aujero saved him, helping raise funds and resident support that led to a placement at Lions, Tigers & Bears, an animal sanctuary in San Diego County, according to the Glendale News Press and the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.).

Now a new battle is being waged between Aujero and the sanctuary over rights to the bear’s name, which she copyrighted before he was transported there last year. Counsel for the sanctuary has sent her a cease-and-desist letter demanding that she sign a contract giving Lions, Tigers & Bears control of both the Meatball moniker and a Twitter account, @TheGlendaleBear, under which Aujero tweets on his behalf, the articles explain.

So far, Aujero has refused to do so. But she says the sanctuary is welcome to use the bear’s name for its own fundraising efforts. More than $200,000 has been raised toward the $325,000 that is needed to create a new habitat for Meatball.

“I’ve done nothing but help them because they have the bear; and all of a sudden, they cut me out of the picture,” Aujero told the Glendale newspaper. “I feel like I’m being bullied a little bit.”

Sanctuary officials say they are in the best position to help the bear, especially since Aujero is planning a move to the neighboring state of Oregon.

See also: (2012): “Colo. Sanctuary Sues Over State Reg, In Effort to Give Captured Calif. Bear a New Home”

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