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How Paul Frank Lost His Name

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Poor Paul Sunich. First he lost his monkey. Now he's lost his middle name.

Costa Mesa-based Paul Frank Sunich, creator of the ubiquitous Julius the Monkey icon, can no longer put his name on T-shirts, according to a 16-page ruling yesterday by an Orange County U.S. District Court judge.

Paul Frank Industries (PFI) prevailed in a trademark infringement lawsuit against the designer, who last year after a falling-out with the company he co-founded ten years ago. Sunich transferred the rights to his trademarked monkey to PFI at that time. The court found that Sunich's use of his first, middle, and last name on his latest Treestitch brand infringed upon his former company.

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"Through the extensive efforts of both PFI and Mr. Sunich, the Paul Frank mark has become famous," ruled the judge. "Mr. Sunich therefore, has no absolute right to make use of his name in a manner that would be confusingly similar to PFI's use of the Paul Frank name.''

PFI settled an unlawful termination lawsuit with Sunich just last week.

One takeaway moral to the story: You can give away your monkey, but never, ever, sell the exclusive rights to your name.

Photo by super-structure via flickr.