Monroeville, Alabama is the hometown of one of American’s most iconic authors, Harper Lee. Her novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” was a Pulitzer Prize winner and has become required reading in most American high schools. In 1962, a critically acclaimed movie was make from the book.
Ms. Lee is now 87-years old and still lives in her hometown. She is however, quite reclusive and is rarely seen, of course some of this is due her advanced age and frailty. She has given copies of books to the town, and has allowed them to do a yearly play based on the book, as well as many other events. These liberties with the book and their hometown icon have allowed the town to built a significant tourist trade. This tourist trade is one of the only employment options in the economically struggling town.
She recently filed a lawsuit against the local museum regarding a merchandising trademark. Attorneys point out that the museum has violated her “right to profit from her sole work.” The museum states they have used many items in their library and have never paid Ms. Lee a licensing fee due to the fact that she never ask for one. The attorney’s are also seeking a “trademark application for the book“. The museum has used the book in it’s displays, as well as other items for nearly 20-years. The museum has also stated that they are willing to share the profits with Lee.
A decision by the U.S. Trademark office will be made by November 7, 2014.
Area residents and businesses fear the lawsuit will close the museum, and if that happens tourism will end, and so will the town.
Ms. Lee has vocally, and often stated her abhorrence of commercializing her book.
It is unclear what sparked the lawsuit, but litigation continues.