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Anaheim Angels Throw Monkey Wrench Into Producer's Plans

Larry Cano has filed a trademark application and movie script treatment on mascot, but the team says it has rights to the name.

November 06, 2002|Gary Gentile | Associated Press

Film producer Larry Cano has found that the World Series champion Anaheim Angels aren't about to let anyone monkey around with their mascot.

Cano, an executive producer of the 1983 film "Silkwood," sees the Angels' Rally Monkey as a perfect role model for kids and wants to make a movie featuring the crowd-pleasing primate. He has filed a trademark application for the term "Rally Monkey" and a script treatment with the Writers Guild of America.

There's only one problem. The real parents aren't willing to part with the furry fellow. The team as well as major league baseball say they have prior rights to the name.

"The mere fact that somebody filed for trademark registration does not give them any special legal status," said Rick Schlesinger, an Angel lawyer. "Our position is that 'Rally Monkey' is a protected trademark of the Angels."

Not to mention the fact that Walt Disney Co., which owns the Angels, might want to make its own Rally Monkey movie someday.

The monkey with seemingly miraculous powers made his first appearance June 6, 2000, when the Angels, losing to the San Francisco Giants, needed a boost. The operator of the Sony Jumbotron in centerfield played a clip from the movie "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" that showed a capuchin monkey jumping up and down.

Fans went wild, the team won and a tradition was born.

Until this year, the monkey restricted his appearances to inside the stadium. But as the Angels moved closer to the baseball playoffs, the monkey made his way to T-shirts and other items.

"Never give up, do the best you can, come from behind -- it's just a fantastic film idea," said William Levin, an intellectual-property attorney representing Cano.

Cano, who lives in Newport Beach and says he is a lifelong Angel fan, declined to be interviewed.

Intellectual-property experts say the producer has little chance of enforcing his trademark application.

"You cannot hijack a trademark by filing an application against the rightful owner," said Alfred W. Zaher, a trademark attorney.

"The Rally Monkey started out as a whimsical, lighthearted in-stadium promotional vehicle," the Angels' Schlesinger said. "It was not intended nor was it ever expected to be something you could make money off of.

"There is a common misconception that we are trying to corner the markets on monkeys," he added. "You can always buy a stuffed monkey. Whether you buy it from us or at a local store, we welcome it. What we are trying to protect is the use of the term 'Rally Monkey.' "

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