LOS ANGELES – A feud involving the man who sang "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" could wind up in court, just in time for Christmas.
Elmo Shropshire was sued for breach of contract Monday by a company that claims he interfered in a $1 million-plus deal to sell musical trucks, bobblehead dolls, snow globes and cookie jars featuring characters from an animated show based on the novelty song.
The tale about Santa mowing down a tipsy grandma with his sleigh was first heard in 1979 and has become a holiday favorite. It inspired a 2000 animated TV program that continues to run seasonally around the world.
The Fred Rappoport Co. of California contends it has the rights to use the song for products featuring characters from that program. Rappoport claims it got those specific rights under a 2004 settlement of a lawsuit filed by Shropshire.
The new lawsuit, which seeks at least $2 million in damages, was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It contends that Shropshire this month improperly sent cease-and-desist letters to two companies that made a deal with Rappoport to market products featuring characters from the animated show.
Shropshire, who lives north of San Francisco in Novato, contended Tuesday that he was legally enforcing his rights to the song.
Rappoport "can sell any characters he wants from the movie," Shropshire said. "But I own the copyright from the song. He can't use the song without my permission."
Shropshire continued: "The song preceded the (animated) show by 20 years. There are a number of companies that license that song from us to make toys and to make CDs and to make a number of things. They're not going to feel so good if we allow someone else to use it for free."