Mr. Yuk has Lawyers!?

It turns out Mr. Yuk, the scary green poison control symbol, has lawyers and they are not very happy about what’s happening in St. Paul.   Local City Council member Paul Bakken has put Mr. Yuk-like faces on lawn signs opposing an upcoming vote to amend the city charter. Attorneys for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which holds the copyright on Mr. Yuk, weren’t amused.

“It’s just that this guy is using Mr. Yuk inappropriately and illegally. He’s broken copyright laws. … It’s clearly a violation,” said Dr. Edward Krenzelok, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center, which is affiliated with the medical center.   He said Mr. Yuk was created more than 30 years ago to warn children away from dangerous substances. He said he has asked the medical center’s lawyers to straighten things out.

“It doesn’t hurt us,” Krenzelok acknowledged. “It’s just inappropriate use, and we have to control the use to maintain our copyright.”   Bakken, a lawyer, defended his use of Mr. Yuk. He said federal law allows some use of copyrighted material for satire or academic criticism. He said he found Yuk-like images spread across the Internet.

“It appeared to be in the public domain,” he said. “If this is genuinely harming the good work that they do, I sincerely apologize.”  In my opinion lawn poison is still poison so I am not sure what the problem is, watch the vintage commercial from 1971 to see Mr. Yuk in action.