Innovation Asset Blog

Harper Lee suit against Ala. museum to proceed

Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," recently filed suit against a museum in Alabama that unfairly benefits from that work, according to Bloomberg. Monroe County Heritage Museum Inc. asked Judge William H. Steele of the federal court in Mobile, Ala., to dismiss Lee's claims against it, which the judge declined to do. Steele ruled the motion to dismiss lacked legal reasoning and relied instead on "bald conclusions" that did not demonstrate the claims should be thrown out.

The museum claimed Lee's suit was barred by the doctrine of laches as she had "slumbered" on her right to sue since the museum's opening in 1992, according to Law360. The judge ruled Lee's complaint showed no such delay and that the defendants had failed to provide evidence of it.

"Moreover, the defendant neither identifies the requirements of laches nor explains how the material on which it relies would ... establish as a matter of law that any of the plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine," Steele wrote.

Lee alleges the museum is violating federal and state trademark law in featuring exhibits that use both her name and her work. At the time she filed the complaint, the museum was also using the domain name Lee maintains Monroeville, Ala., is attempting to use her novel's success for financial gain. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is set in the fictional Maycomb County, Ala.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.