Big Red suit rages on

Shawntaye Hopkins

The multimillion dollar lawsuit involving two red, fuzzy creatures won’t likely be resolved anytime soon.

Attorneys representing an Italian television company objected to the submittal of evidence concerning the creation of Big Red during a status conference in the Court of Ravenna in Italy.

A Mediaset attorney declined to comment yesterday when contacted by telephone.

Steven Crossland, president of Western’s California-based licensing company, Crossland Enterprises, Inc., said he believes attorneys for Mediaset are stalling to delay the case in their favor.

“It makes us spend more time, more money, more everything,” he said.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 2, Crossland said.

Judge Roberta Cinosuro is presiding over the case, Crossland said.

Western and Crossland Enterprises filed lawsuit in February 2003 against Mediaset, an Italian television company, seeking $250 million for trademark and copyright infringement.

The lawsuit contends that Mediaset copied Big Red in 1991 when creating Gabibbo, a character on the Italian show “Striscia La Noticia.”

Big Red waited outside of the courtroom during the hearing, Crossland said.

The Western mascot was created by a student, Ralph Carey, in 1979.

“We anticipate we will probably want him to appear as a witness at trial, and Mr. Carey is part of the story of Big Red,” said Richard Davidoff, the Beverly Hills, Calif., attorney representing Crossland Enterprises and Western.

An attorney from Italy, Giorgio Mondini, is representing Crossland Enterprises, Western and Adfra, the company that handles marketing of Big Red in Italy.

It might be another year before a final verdict is reached in the case, Davidoff said.

Crossland agreed.

“It could be years,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be, but I imagine if anything gets done it will be the end of this year or the beginning of next year. The sooner the better.”

Both sides were asked to submit briefs concerning the appearance of Carey and admittance of other evidence by the next hearing, Crossland said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]