Five cast members of the iconic television show “Happy Days” have sued CBS Studios for unpaid merchandising royalties. The lawsuit seeks Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00) due to the failure of CBS to pay the actors for the use of their name and likeness for merchandising. CBS was served with the complaint on Tuesday.
Happy Days is one of the most popular shows in television history. The complaint alleges that “’Happy Days’ epitomizes what is best in America with the Cunningham family exemplifying the best of what a family can be” and CBS’s “actions epitomize what is worst in corporate America, exemplifying the worst business practices.”
Plaintiffs are Anson Williams (Potsie Weber), Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham), Don Most (Ralph Malph), Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham) and Patricia Bosley (the widow of Tom Bosley who played Howard Cunningham).
The actors were not paid by CBS for the use of their images on slot machines and DVDs. Jon Pfeiffer, attorney for the Plaintiffs stated that despite an on-going obligation to make payments as revenue was generated from “Happy Days” merchandise, CBS adopted a “don’t ask, don’t pay” policy. If you don’t ask, CBS don’t pay.
In a statement to CNN, Henry Winkler stated that he supports the lawsuit but did not participate in the suit because he has been paid.
A copy of the complaint is available on Jon Pfeiffer’s website at www.pfeifferlaw.com.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.