CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillie Phanatic has a slightly different look this spring training season.
Though still big and green, the Philadelphia Phillies made some creative tweaks to the beloved mascot. Those tweaks were unveiled Sunday at the team's afternoon matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The mascot's makeover comes amid an ongoing copyright lawsuit over the Phanatic.
Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, who co-created the original Phanatic costume in 1978, announced their plans in 2018 to seek the rights to the mascot. The Phillies purchased the copyright from them in 1984. Under federal law, the artists can renegotiate their rights after 35 years.
In 2019, the Phillies filed a lawsuit to maintain their rights, arguing the organization's creative efforts made the Phanatic what it is today.
“Over the last 40 years, the Phanatic has evolved,” Phillies executive vice president David Buck said Saturday. “He’s evolving a little bit more. The changes are creative. I think the fans will like them.”
The Phanatic’s copyright expires on June 15. The Phillies are prepared to move forward with Sunday’s iteration of the Phanatic if a resolution is not reached by then.
“We have to protect the Phanatic,” Buck said. “It’s our icon. It’s our cultural icon.”
Erickson and Harrison spoke to the ongoing dispute in response to the Phanatic's newly revealed makeover.
“The Phillies lack of good faith in negotiating for an extension of the copyright assignment for the Phillie Phanatic is disappointing,” Harrison said in a statement. “But the unveiling of the so-called ‘new’ Phanatic on Sunday is an afront to our intellectual property rights and to Phillies fans everywhere.”
“For more than 40 years, we have worked closely with the Phillies, making all the Phanatic costumes, providing artwork and ideas until June of 2018,” Erickson added.
“The Phanatic has performed successfully for the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia for decades. The ‘business decision’ by the Phillies to roll out this ‘new’ Phanatic is a transparent attempt to deny us our rights under of the Copyright Act," Erickson said. "We would love to have the real Phanatic continue with the Phillies.”
For the latest local news, sports and weather, download the FOX 29 News app.
DOWNLOAD: FOX 29 NEWS APP