A beloved childhood game is at the heart of an intellectual property dispute. Landmark Entertainment Group, LLC (“Landmark”) sued Hasbro Studios (“Hasbro”) over the contractual and intellectual property rights in original creative works consisting of the iconic characters, locations, storyline, artwork and environmental elements that make up one of my favorite childhood games, Candy Land.
The complaint filed in the case informs us that since the 1940s Candy Land has been sold by Hasbro subsidiary Milton Bradley. Then in 1984, Plaintiff Landmark redesigned the box and game board and created actual game characters with names, personalities and their storylines.
This dispute arose after Hasbro announced that it was going to turn Candy Land into an Adam Sandler movie. Landmark likely saw dollar signs dancing among the gumdrops from the game. Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions had produced and/or distributed countless movies make millions of dollars (e.g., Anger Management, Grown Ups and 50 First Dates). Further, a movie about Candy Land would be a merchandising dream. You can envision Candy Land branded candy (similar to how Reese’s Pieces was successfully marketed along with the hugely successful E.T. movie), figurines, stuffed animals and clothing. It is no wonder that Landmark wants its cut of the millions of dollars that will be generated from the movie in both ticket sales and merchandise sales.
Hasbro contends that Landmark was hired on a work-for-hire basis, so the intellectual property rights are owned by Hasbro. The courts will need to decide whether the face-lift for Candy Land was a licensing agreement entitling Landmark to royalties or a work-for-hire agreement that left ownership with Hasbro. I hope they work it out soon so we can see Adam Sandler on screen with the Gumdrop Mountain Greeter character in the movie.