Back to School 90’s Style
Most likely, if you went to school in the 1990s, you either owned Lisa Frank notebooks, pens, or stickers or knew someone who did. Established in 1979, Lisa Frank’s eponymous line of school supplies and novelty items epitomized trends in the late 1980’s and early 1990s with its use of rainbows, neon colors, and surreal drawings of koala bears, gumball machines, and various other animals and objects. At the peak of its popularity in 1996, the company took in over $60 million in sales.
Although successful, the company faced tough and often unscrupulous competition. On December 11, 1991 in civil case 91-725, Lisa Frank, Inc. (LFI) filed suit against Impact International, Inc., Style Club, Inc., and their respective owners in the U.S. District Court for Tucson, Arizona claiming that their products infringed on trademarks and trade dresses held by LFI.
In the lawsuit, LFI alleged the current President of Impact International’s subsidiary company Style Club, Inc., Barry Silberman, shared confidential trade information with both his wife and Impact International’s CEO, Kenneth Litvack as part of a scheme “to acquire as much confidential information as possible regarding LFI’s customers,…product and design ideas and marketing strategies, with the intent of establishing competing and infringing product lines” while employed as Vice President of Sales for Lisa Frank from June 1990 to January 1991.
Beginning in September 1991, LFI noticed Valentine’s Day, Easter, and “Back to School” products marketed by Style Club which duplicated Lisa Frank products and packaging in-development or marketed during Silberman’s tenure with the company. In the complaint (Document 1), the plaintiffs cite 46 examples of LFI products that Style Club “copied, reproduced, or imitated” and include 40 color prints showcasing Lisa Frank’s trademarks and trade dresses distinctive designs and color patterns such as its “Flying Junkfood” design and “bold rainbow colors gradually fading into one another” and the Style Club items in question.
In response, the defendants argued that designers often employed rainbows in novelty products and youth stationary and that utilizing several colors and designs was not only commonplace in stationary geared towards children and teenagers but “deemed necessary to catch the eye of juvenile and teen-age purchasers”. To illustrate that argument, their exhibits included side-by-side photos of Style Club, Inc. products next to LFI products and similarly-colored products like Bic pens. Yet, in May 1993, Judge Richard Bilby sided with the plaintiffs ordering the defendants to pay Lisa Frank, Inc. $1.1 million dollars plus interest and ordering a permanent injunction against Impact International, Inc. to prevent them from “imitating, copying, counterfeiting or otherwise infringing LFI’s Trade Dress, Trademarks and/or Copyrights.”
What are your thoughts?? Learn more about this case and other Federal records created in Arizona, southern California, and Clark County, Nevada and held at the National Archives at Riverside on our website, http://www.archives.gov/riverside/.
After the inception of the Apollo program in 1961, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) collaboratively launched a series of geology education training courses for Apollo astronauts to help them understand geological principles and analysis for future manned spaceflights to the Moon. In this photograph from April 17, 1964, future Apollo 11 astronaut, Neil Armstrong, (left) and future Apollo 1 astronaut, Edward H. White (right) study the notes of an unknown NASA employee (center) during a geology field trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas.
This photograph was compiled by the Branch of Astrogeology in a series called “Astronaut Geology Education Files, 1962 - 1974.” It was recently identified during archival processing along with many other interesting items. The National Archives at Riverside maintains 76 cubic feet of archival materials generated and compiled by the Branch of Astrogeology in Record Group 57 – Records of the United States Geological Survey. For more information on our holdings, please feel free to contact us. We have many cool and historically significant records relating to astrogeology and lunar exploration!
Howard the Duck
Released in 1986, the movie Howard the Duck bombed at the box office and received equally scathing reviews from critics. Yet the character Howard the Duck first appeared in writer Stephen Gerber’s Adventure into Fear: Man-Thing (#19) comic book series published by Marvel comics in December 1973 as an ancillary figure to the featured Man-Thing. In 1975, Gerber further developed the character of Howard the Duck into a “cigarsmoking, Kirkegaard-quoting duck who fights evil in fantasy worlds” for a comic book of the same name which ran from 1976 through 1979. Throughout the years, Howard fought villains ranging from the Savage Dragon to the Kidney Lady and even ran for president as part of the fictitious All-Night Party in 1976.
In 1978, Marvel removed Gerber from the series citing creative differences. Two years later, Gerber responded by suing the Marvel Corporation and its parent company Cadence Industries, Stan Lee and the writers associated with the series for copyright infringement in civil case 80-3840 tried in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles). On November 5, 1982, Judge David V. Kenyon ruled in favor of the defendant stating that Gerber created Howard the Duck as part of “work for hire” agreement with Cadence Industries and as such, “Cadence owns all right, title and interest in and to the Character and the Works, including copyrights, trademarks, goodwill and the property rights pertaining thereto.” The two parties later reached a confidential settlement outside of court wherein Marvel retained its ownership of the character.
Today, the lawsuit serves as one of the first publicized legal battles over creator ownership. It helped spur the creation of the Creator’s Bill of Rights aimed at guarding creators against large corporations’ exploitative “work for hire” practices. The Bill of Rights and its stress on creator ownership in the 1980s influenced comic book creators such as Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, creators of the widely-successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, to self-publish comics rather than share their works with companies like Marvel.
The National Archives at Riverside holds this case among thousands of civil and criminal case files from southern California, Arizona, and Clark County, Nevada. We welcome you to explore these records and the many other series and subjects within our holdings.
From the holdings of the National Archives at Riverside, Records of the U.S. District Courts (RG 21)
The real treasures [of the National Archives] go home at night.
THE RIGHT TO COMEDIC EXPRESSION?
This week is the 45th Anniversary of the termination of Tom and Dick Smothers from CBS. According to court documents, on April 3, 1969, CBS terminated their contract with Smothers Brothers, ending the successful run of the Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour. The Brothers responded by filing suit in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California, complaining that CBS’s “purpose and intent…was to impose a censorship over the content of the material in the programs…although [they] knew that the content was expression entitled to protection under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Their case was not universally supported, as evidenced by a letter from Maude Lobdell of Loma Linda, California, filed in the case. ”I hope you lose all suits…Your show needed to be censored,” she complained, “You offend.”
The Brothers won their legal battle, and opened the door for contemporary political comedians such as John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
This case is held by the National Archives at Riverside in our holdings of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles).
NEA Gov Resources for March 3 Read Across America Day! (in honor of Dr. Suess)
Inspiring Students to Read
- Promoting Reading for All Children
- Raising a Reader
- Tips for Reading Aloud
- Reading to Young, School-Age Children
- Tips for Reading to Infants and Toddlers
- Get Ready for Summer Reading
- Plan a Reading Event
- Public Relations Tools
- Get Politicians and Board Members Involved
- Downloadables: Calendars, Certificates, and More
Booklists from NEA
- Teacher’s Top 100 Books for Children
- Kids’ Top 100 Books
- Asian-American Booklist
- Spanish/English Bilingual Booklist
- 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read
- 50 State Booklist
- Native American Booklist
- African American Booklist
- Authors’ Favorite Booklist
- Books by Theme for Elementary-Age Children
- Notable Children’s Books Lists
- Books to Support English Language Learners
- House Resolution 495: Encouraging people in the United States to recognize March 3, 2014, as Read Across America Day
- President Barack Obama Proclaims March 3, 2014, Read Across America Day
Last week, were happy to host the recipient of the 2013 Research Fellow, sponsored by the Foundation for the National Archives. Dr. Melanie Sturgeon visited us to utilize our holdings of Arizona Territorial Court records. She is researching the business of prostitution in the Territory. Dr. Sturgeon found lots of useful material, including this permit, issued by the City of Globe to local prostitute, Bertha Reed.
Over the past several decades two federal agencies, the U.S. Navy and and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have shipped over 1,000 cubic feet of maps and drawings to our facility. These items came to our facility rolled, undescribed, and in poor containers. Over the past several years we have begun to flatten, described, and properly store these maps and drawings.
How do we do it? We pull a roll of tightly wound drawings from their original containers and check the condition of the items. The drawings are then placed in one of two humidification chambers. These chambers trap humidity, which allows a slight raise in the moisture content of the maps and drawings. The items are then removed from the humidification chambers and placed between wool felt, and spun polyester. A plexiglass cover and weights are placed on top. This allows the moisture to evaporate, keeps the items separated, and helps keep them flat. Once they are flat, they are put in large map folders, listed in our inventory database, and placed in a map cabinet in the temperature and humidity controlled archival storage area.
Some of these drawings document the development of flood control in southern California and Arizona. Some of them document military sites such as the old El Toro base in Orange County, California. All of them are unique and contribute to the history of our area.