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THE OSCARS; A Big Legal Battle Over Garland's Mini Award
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Litigation; Trademarks; Academy awards
Author: Lacher, Irene
Date: Mar 22, 2002
Start Page: F.1
Section: Calendar; Calendar Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

When the academy found the paperwork, its lawyers shot off letters demanding the sale be stopped. Christie's dropped out because it wasn't interested in selling a duplicate anyway, but Luft battled the academy in court. He argued that the publicist's letter was forged by somebody in the firm who wanted a statuette for him- or herself, and that [Judy Garland] had never signed a winner's agreement because she'd never lost the original or received a duplicate. But Luft can't explain why the Oscar he offered Christie's appears to be different from the one Garland and [Mickey Rooney] are clutching in the famous photograph.

At any rate, the court ruled in the academy's favor in 1995, declaring that the Oscar was a duplicate. And Luft was ordered to return the statuette to the academy. He countered that he needed to hold onto it because he planned to appeal. Time went by and no appeal was filed, so the academy called Luft's lawyer and asked for the award. His lawyer said that Luft had already given the statuette to his daughter, [Lorna Luft].

In an interview, Luft said the Oscar he brought to the meeting was a fake fashioned by a friend to cheer him up when he was in the hospital a decade ago. That didn't sway the Superior Court, which declared in January that this Oscar was the original, ordering Luft to hand it to the academy. Meanwhile, the academy had filed suit in federal court saying that even if it were true that the statuette was a phony as Luft claimed, it still fell under the academy's control, because the imitation infringed on the academy's copyright.

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