Emily the Strange Sues Possible Inspiration Source

One of the biggest post we have had on here thanks to chelseamca was about Emily the strange and the uncanny similarities it has with Nate the great. Original post here if you havent seen it.

Well now Emily is sueing Nate the great…

Below taken from comicsworthreading.com

Emily the Strange has a movie in development for 2010. Often, when that happens, filmmakers want to be sure that the property ownership is clear. (No one wants another Watchmen situation.)

So, in an example of how twisted our legal system can be, Cosmic Debris (owners of the Emily the Strange property) has sued Marjorie Sharmat and Marc Simont. Who are they? The writer and illustrator of the Nate the Great series of children’s books (news via Robot6). One particular book from 1978, Nate the Great Goes Undercover, features a character named Rosamond who had long black hair and was kinda creepy.


Also more from http://www.courthousenews.com/

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Cosmic Debris Etc. has sued two children’s book authors, claiming its “Emily the Strange” character does not infringe on Marjorie Sharmat’s and Marc Simont’s “Nate the Great” copyrights. Cosmic Debris acknowledges that both characters are “Goth Girls,” but says such characters abound in popular fiction.
Cosmic Debris cities Morticia and Wednesday from “The Addams Family,” Lydia from “Beetlejuice” and Vampira of “The Vampira Show.”
Emily the Strange is used to promote skateboards, T-shirts, comic books and other merchandise. Cosmic Debris claims it created the character in 1991.
Though Sharmat and Simont claim Emily was inspired by their “Rosamond” character, Cosmic Debris denies it. “Emily” has dark bangs and pale skin and wears a black dress, but “Rosamond” is “rosy cheeked and smiling,” and wears dresses of varying color. The only similarity seems to be that the two are often accompanied by cats, the complaint states.
Cosmic Debris asks that the defendants be restrained from recovering damages regarding Emily, and that they be prohibited from claiming that Emily infringes on their work. The plaintiff is represented by Mark Lee with Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.

Download the case here:

Posted by YTWWN  |  40 Comments  |  in Design, Fashions




  1. cavale 05/24/2009 3:18 pm

    That’s disgusting.

    Also, does anyone else have a big giant banner ad for Emily The Strange branded Jones Soda on the right? Only $15.99 per 6-pack (plus shipping).

  2. Pammy 05/24/2009 6:45 pm

    Wow, now I feel so dirty for owning a couple of Cosmic Debris shirts. What douchebags! It’s not enough that they stole someone else’s idea, now they’re suing the original creators to make sure they shut up?

    I’d like to know how they explain the nearly identical wording in combination with very similar images? There is no way that can be chalked up to coincidence or frequent recurrence in popular fiction.

    Maybe with all their ill-gotten money, they can force the original creators to back down, but they can’t silence all of us. Every one of us spread this story to a few more people, and so on and so on, they will still be screwed.

    This injustice will not stand.

  3. Pingback: World gone mad: Emily sues Rosamond «

  4. manonymous 05/25/2009 10:21 am

    chirst. Here’s to hoping that the defense just gives the judge a copy of the Rosamond and Emily pics above and he sees that they didn’t even really bother to change the flavor text and just flipped the cats, and then orders cosmic to pay 10 mil in back damages to Sharmat & Simont. Hell, a half-blind 90 year old kindergarden teacher could tell that’s plagiarism.

  5. al 05/25/2009 3:08 pm

    ‘“Emily” has dark bangs and pale skin and wears a black dress, but “Rosamond” is “rosy cheeked and smiling,” and wears dresses of varying color.’ – thats funny, they would have been identical otherwise. What a bunch of cheeky wanks.

  6. gwh 05/25/2009 4:01 pm

    So, if both characters draw on non-protectible stock cultural elements of the “goth girl”, does that mean that Cosmic Debris will no longer be enforcing its registered copyrights and trademarks in Emily?

  7. Maaike 05/25/2009 6:36 pm

    The good news is that they now give attention to the original character, so that more people will find out where the Emily character comes from. I can’t believe they’re that stupid and have that much disrespect for the original illustrator & writer.

  8. Michelle 05/25/2009 8:27 pm

    wow, that is just cruel. Comic Debris shows us another case of corporate greed.

  9. Anon. 05/25/2009 8:36 pm

    From emilythestrange.com: “Designers including Jean-Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Marc Jacobs have paid tribute to her, but she doesn’t care! Emily wants you to be yourself, think for yourself, and DO IT YOURSELF. There’s nothing more boring to her than copying everyone else. Emily is the link to the Stranger in us all.”

  10. Abe 05/26/2009 11:20 am

    Time for an ass kicking. Spread the word to everyone you know.

  11. Kirvi 05/26/2009 2:23 pm

    I thought they had already settled this once before, or rather admitted that they were “inspiried” by Rosamond. It seems like a very lost cause on the Emily side.

  12. Maria 05/26/2009 7:03 pm

    All they (Comic Debris) must do is convince a judge to rule in their favor. I wonder if they have to prove their copyright or if they just have to prove that M&M have no rights to the character as it stands. Then,they can tie off such a glaring and pesky loose end, one that could prevent the production of the movie. I think that no studio in their right mind would proceed with a project that has such a liability. It’s sad, but in the end it probably won’t matter if they publicly admitted to being inspired by Rosamond or not.

    I also wonder if there’s a defense fund set up since I doubt these two and their entities have the resources of Comic Debris.

  13. Maria 05/26/2009 7:04 pm

    Cosmic rather

  14. thoughtprovoker 05/26/2009 9:56 pm

    totally wrong. i hope the judge is one of those smart judges that has a brain…and can see that the text is exactly the same…and that one of the cats is almost identical. COSMIC DEBRIS got BUSTED!

  15. jen 05/26/2009 11:51 pm

    Here is the thing. I have seen Emily stuff for years, and one of the most charming things about the brand is that it riffs on popular culture, some pretty mainstream, and some rather obscure stuff. I think this is just an early example of that – nowhere have I seen that this was the very first Emily design or that it was the one that launched the entire brand. Of course the people who do Emily are inspired by different sources, perhaps Rosamond, definitely different bands like the Clash, Ramones, etc. If there was a law against artists being inspired by their culture, then art wouldn’t exist. I think this lawsuit is just he owners of Emily trying to protect what they have built – according to a legal statement on their website, the lady from Nate the Great has been harassing Cosmic Debris’ business partners, so they had to do something.

  16. Tanner Kay 05/27/2009 3:13 pm

    Jen – This was hardly inspired, the writing is right there and the cats may as well just have been traced in the way they are posed, this idea was taken and with this movie coming, I have absolute sympathy with the creator of Rosamond. On the other side of the fence however they have legal ground to stand on as Emily, as they state doesn’t quite look like Rosamond, they are their own different characters though “inspired”.

    So yeah, while I hate Cosmic for what they are doing here they actually have a leg to stand on, unfortunately. :(

    Lets hope their spiteful campaign shows them in a brand new light for those who pick this story up.

  17. Randall Johnston 05/27/2009 6:50 pm

    “Cosmic Debris” was a Frank Zappa composition.

  18. CreatureofHabit 05/27/2009 6:59 pm

    A top notch RIP! How can anyone defend Cosmic Debris? So what if they lose everything (which they should). That’s what happens when you build an investment and brand based on stealing. Unreal. I hope the Nate the Great creators nail them with a counter-suit. Not likely, but I’m hopeful.

  19. Emily (seriously) 05/28/2009 11:00 am

    Holy shit. This is such an obviously unfair case. Hey, let’s SUE THE PEOPLE WE CLEARLY STOLE A CONCEPT WHICH WE’VE IMMENSELY PROFITED FROM! How dare they ask for some of the compensation we’ve received over the years from their work?

    This elderly couple hasn’t objected in 18 years because this is PROBABLY the first time that people in their fucking 70′s have even seen Emily the Strange. Do you really think they even go into Hot Topic??

    A quick glance at the side-by-side images above is all anyone needs to make their mind up here.

    I really hope that the “small company with only 6 employees” Cosmic Debris loses this one; since the creators of Rosalind probably don’t have much money, I hope they get some sort of help in this case.

  20. Cosmic Debris Fan 05/28/2009 11:11 am

    1. Hair: Long, black with bangs partially obscuring the eyes.
    2. Skin: pale white, with arms at side
    3. Face: chubby cheeks, pointed chin
    4. Sleeveless, shapeless, armless dress hitting above the knee
    5. Black tights.
    6. White sandals, identical aside from one strap
    7. Multiple black cats surrounding Emily
    8. Very small cat in background, almost identical shape and position, reversed to be a “mirror image”
    9. Two front cats, one walking sideways from Emily and one toward the audience; with similar legs, tails, whiskers and eyes;
    10. “(Rosamond/Emily) didn’t/did not look tired/hungry or happy/sleepy.”
    11. “She looked like she always looks.”
    12. “Strange.”

    Yup. Noo way they ripped off these authors, nope…..

  21. This is the best. 05/28/2009 11:19 am

    Jen thank you for your legal statement in all its disgusting glory. Here are my favorite snippets

    “Over the last three months, Marjorie Sharmat and Marc Simont appeared out of nowhere” – Slight misrepresentation there, more like someone stumbled across a book that was clearly the inspiration for this Emily the Strange character and news swept the web and someone eventually notified the author and illustrator. I mean did these people expect to get away with this stolen concept for so long? They should be lucky they’ve lasted until now.

    “To date, Ms. Sharmat has never contacted Cosmic Debris” – Good! She doesn’t have to and I’m sure you morons would try to get her to settle for $100 or something but luckily they’re being smart and communicating through lawyers LIKE YOU ARE ALSO DOING

    “Ms. Sharmat’s and Mr.Simont’s allegations of infringement are entirely wrong” – Hahahahahahahaha *glances at picture again* hahahahahaa

    “and Cosmic Debris was left with no other choice but to seek a judicial determination of that fact” – No what you did was make a few asshole comments on this website never actually addressing the picture in question but instead the broader nature of art or some shit. Look at the fucking picture you frauds and stop lying.

    “Cosmic Debris intends to aggressively defend its rights and to hold Ms. Sharmat and Mr. Simont responsible legally for any harm that they have done to the Emily the Strange brand” – Your rights to steal other people’s work? Your right to harm other people but sue when they attempt to PROTECT THEIR WORK? You’ve got to be kidding me hahaha I hope you lose.

  22. a*p 05/30/2009 1:56 am

    That is completely outrageous. I hope the Nate folks win.

  23. Anony. 05/31/2009 4:40 am

    This case is so ass-backwards, it’s discusting.
    If Cosmic Debris successfully sues the people involved with the classic Nate the Great book series, crazy shit is gonna fly.

  24. tam 06/01/2009 10:23 am

    You know… There’s also word of mouth.

    Even if Cosmic Debris won this case, the fire would spread and folk would know exactly what kind of people are behind this wondrous character that is not even theirs’ to begun with.

  25. Al Ewing 06/01/2009 2:17 pm

    Fascinating seeing the percentage of people willing to defend Cosmic Debris on the original post versus the percentage of people willing to defend them after they’ve done this.

  26. Hibryd 06/01/2009 4:25 pm

    Jen –

    “I have seen Emily stuff for years, and one of the most charming things about the brand is that it riffs on popular culture, some pretty mainstream, and some rather obscure stuff.”

    It’s not a “riff” if you just copy something word for word. Neither is it “inspiration”. For me that single panel is too damning to ignore.

    “according to a legal statement on their website, the lady from Nate the Great has been harassing Cosmic Debris’ business partners, so they had to do something.”

    Yeah, well, you can expect to be harassed when you blatantly copy someone and then make scads of money off it.

  27. Pingback: Lovelace › Dead kids and plagiarism

  28. rcon 06/03/2009 2:00 am

    The defenders of Cosmic Debris who cite the superficial differences between the two characters need to remember among other things, the work needs to be “transformative” to avoid being considered infringement.

    Not very transformative at all, IMO.

  29. yoyo 06/29/2009 12:36 am

    I’ve been reading all the posts about this and can’t agree any more strongly than others already have at how blatant a rip off that original bumper sticker was/is!

    For what it’s worth, I think that the original skateboard design was possibly like a lot of others at that time (see the book ‘Disposable, a history skateboard graphics) where several skate companies intentionally set out to rip off various other artworks as it created lots of publicity and a demand for their decks.

    Another possible scenario could have been that the person who created it (Nathan?? or Rob) thought that it might appear on a single series of skate decks and then never be seen again, but before they knew it, the brand had taken off! Nobody mentioned the Nate the Great character, and their explanation that it was based on various other characters seemed to work. They’d have got away with it if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids!

    I’d have a lot more respect for them if they just held their hands up and admitted it – the cats and text on that bumper sticker really are a no brainer!!! Their push to sue echoes a bit of the Shepard Fairey vs AP thing and is obviously the way the big boys want to play it these days.

  30. Pandora 07/03/2009 4:11 pm

    Does anyone know when the final outcome of this case will be? I hope the judge just sees sense and rightly acknowledges Marjorie Sharmat and Marc Simon as the originators. Cosmic Debris are fat money grabbing corporate bastards.

  31. chelseamca 07/07/2009 9:17 pm

    This is absolutely ridiculous and totally infuriating. I have been in contact with Marjorie Sharmat since the plagiarism surfaced, and as far as I understand, they are being represented by Random House lawyers. Marjorie Sharmat is still writing the Nate the Great Books and Random House still publishes them, so at least (I assume) they have the interest of the publishing co. behind them. I really pray for the prevalence of original creation and art that is made out of love, not greed.

  32. racewinner 07/10/2009 5:11 pm

    Reminds me of that scene in “Coming to America”

    “McDonald’s has the Big Mac…but McDowell’s has the Big Mick”

    I love that CosmicDebris’ legal case is built on ignoring that they were caught red handed.

    It would be different if they were just similar looking, but there is NO WAYYYYYYYYY any logical person could despite that it wasn’t a shot-for-shot rip off.

  33. Pingback: Design and Plagurism. « < Keep Left

  34. Anonymous 09/06/2009 1:13 pm

    what is wrong with you! Emily may seem like a copy, but the personality is completely different. Emily is a goth.

  35. lauren 09/25/2009 7:38 pm

    http://www.emilystrange.com/blog/index.cfm/2009/8/12/Emily-The-Strange-And-Nate-The-Great-Creators-Resolve-Dispute – lame. i’m surprised no one has left a comment on Cosmic Debris blog about the incident. i have a suspicion all negative comments directed towards them, which they probably all were, were deleted by them before they had a chance to publish.

  36. simi1 02/14/2010 2:07 am

    I’m glad this was posted. I thought I was the only person who realized this! The MOMENT I first saw the Emily character I KNEW it was a rip off of the Nate the Great character because that was my favorite series of books as a kid!!!! I used to draw the girl with the cats ALL the time because she was creepy and reminded me of myself when I was little. When I saw Emily, I was telling EVERYONE she was the girl from Nate the Great, and everyone thought I was crazy… I hated the Emily character the moment it came out because I was old enough to have read Nate the Great and knew she wasn’t original at all. It’s ridiculous to deny that she was a rip off Rosemond but at least these postings help inform everyone that Cosmetic Debris SUCKS and so does Emily!

  37. Joan P. Boycott 02/27/2010 9:18 pm

    It makes my stomach turn to read on Cosmic Debris’s website on how Emily is considered to be an icon for individuality and uniqueness… HA

    Emily is Rosamond
    Rosamond from Nate the Great
    Cosmic Debris, nothin’ more than thieves

    I see the court case as a means of telling the world that it is okay to steal other peoples artwork by saying “I didn’t know.” It is obvious that this Nathan Carrico ripped Rosamond out of the pages of Nate the Great. Give credit where credit is due!

    I for one will never purchase any products created by Cosmic Debris.

    Cosmic Debris, nothin’ more than thieves

    I wonder if Cosmic Debris has stolen other artworks

  38. judy 03/07/2010 11:47 am

    WHAT is the final status of this case? The team at Cosmic Debris are not big boys. They are clearly boys. They aren’t big. They are the quintessence of small. Wealth does not a man make. Wealth does not an artist make. A good artist creates from his own imagination. They don’t pirate other’s work and claim it as their own. No matter how much you want it or how easy it is to steal, it never gives you the right to steal it without permission and without crediting the original artist. It’s the “I bet I can get away with it” attitude that frys our brain. You know, no matter how much you tweak someone eles image, we certainly can’t take you seriously as an artist and we aren’t interested in taking you seriously as an intrepreneur. Character -its all we’ve really got, and, its always about choices we make. In addition, people who choose to pirate images are lazy, unimaginative copyists and did I mention lazy. Thousands of us pour over art work on the internet, new and OLD work. Every image ever created by man must be on the internet by now. That doesn’t mean you can always have them. Did you really think it wouldn’t be noticed? Do Todd Goldman and Rob Reger know each other? You can do more than complain – you can look up the CORPORATE offices of the stores you shop at. Contact them and complain there. They won’t want to lose your business because you are angry at their store for carrying this kind of product. Alert them.

  39. Lela 06/13/2010 1:32 pm




  40. reger ripp off 12/23/2012 8:11 pm

    rob you dirty dirty sly man!!! such a rip off

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