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Fall Out Boy Band Faces Claims of Infringement Over Life-Sized Puppets

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On March 15, 2019, a Brooklyn-based high-end puppet designer filed suit against popular pop band Fall Out Boy, in federal court in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the band infringed and exploited its copyrights and intellectual property by making the new face of the band two highly identifiable llama puppets, created by the plaintiff. In the complaint, Furry Puppet Studio Inc. claims that they were contacted by Fall Out Boy in 2017, to provide two wearable llama-like puppets for the band’s “Young and Menace” music video. The puppets were used as an integral part of the music video’s plot. The music video was released on April 27, 2017 and the llamas were an instant hit with fans. The puppet maker was assured by band representatives that its creations would only be used for the agreed upon music video and nothing else. However, after the warm reception the puppets received in the “Young and Menace” video, the band decided to feature the llamas on merchandise, an iPhone app, as the face of the MANIA concert tour and album, in five additional music videos and as the inspiration for the band’s new album, “Llamania.”

Soon it became apparent that the life-sized llama puppets had become the face of the band and they were subsequently featured all over social media. Plaintiff claims that the scope of the infringement goes beyond the initial video that the puppets were intended to be used in and is too large to fully relate given the way that the band has embraced the puppets as part of their identity. To illustrate this point, the complaint is littered with social media posts of the llamas with celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and the hosts of Good Morning America. Plaintiffs argues that at all times it retained ownership of the copyrights to the llama puppets.

The suit brings causes of action for copyright infringement, inducement infringement, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and requests that the court declare that the plaintiff is the owner of the puppets.

The suit is: Furry Puppet Studio Inc. v. Fall Out Boy et al., Case No.: 1:19-cv-02345, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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