Morton Salt is still upset about Wacky Packages after all these years. Who could believe it but they have actually forced eBay to ban auctions of a 35 year old children's trading card: Moron Salt. In March/April of 2003 the rumor started going around about this, the first I am aware of to have problems was ebayer janardana (see testimony). At first nobody could believe it, so a collector ran a test and sure enough the auction was ended by the eBay watchguards (see eBay's explanation below). This is fantastic, we have to thank Morton Salt for caring so much about Wacky Packages.
FROM: eBay **PLEASE READ THIS IMPORTANT EMAIL REGARDING YOUR LISTING(S)** We would like to let you know that we removed your listing: 3221721628 Wacky Package die cut Moron Salt because a member of our Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program notified us, under penalty of perjury, that your item infringes their copyright, trademark, or other rights. For more information on the VeRO Program, and a list of VeROpages, please visit: http://pages.ebay.com/help/community/vero-aboutme.html We have credited any associated fees to your account. We have also notified the bidders that the listing(s) was removed, and that they are not obligated to complete the transaction. If you relist this or any other similar items on eBay, your account could be suspended. If you believe your listing was ended in error, or have questions regarding the removal of this listing, please contact the VeRO Member directly at: Morton Salt Division of Morton International, Inc. email@example.com eBay is available to answer questions, but since it is the VeRO Member that requested the removal of your listings, we encourage you to contact them first. Thank you for your cooperation. Regards, Customer Support (Trust and Safety Department) eBay Inc
UPDATE: The ban has been lifted, this info comes out of the following correspondence:
Dear Mr. or Mrs. Thompson: In 1967, Topps Chewing Gum issued the Die Cut Wacky Packages series which amongst many products, Morton Salt was parodied (appearing as Moron Salt). You subsequently cease and desisted Topps who obliged your demand. Recently, people in our hobby have been trying to sell the card through eBay. You have consistently shut them down. Under what law are you justified for doing this? There is no copyright infringement or trademark violation because the sellers are not printing them or creating them as originals. I do believe you are mistaken believeing that these are recent creations and pieces of art. These have already been produced in mass quantity from Topps over 30 years ago. Hobbyists are not reproducing them so we cannot understand how or which law you are interpreting to shut these auctions down. Please advise us as we will be going to eBay in the near future to challenge your demands. Sincerely, Paul Argyropoulos
Dear Mr. Argyropoulos, Morton Salt no longer objects to the sale of the Wacky Pack item. Sincerely, Alethia Thompson
Here is an article on the Moron Salt subject, available free to anybody who wants to republish, just write me for official permission to reprint. This article is available free to anybody who wants to publish it. Just write me for permission to reprint: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wacky Packages - Still Illegal After All These Years
Morton Salt forces eBay to ban sale of vintage children's collectible
By Gregory Grant May 7th, 2003 If your age puts you in the 30 something crowd then you probably remember Wacky Packages. Wacky Packages are stickers (peel and punch-out) that were released by the Topps Chewing Gum Company between 1967 and 1992. They parodied common household products and were extremely popular among children in the 1970's. Kids loved them because they were fantastically rebellious for the times, they had an edgy humor and they showed characters that were massively appealing to children. Wacky Packages were more than a fad since they raged for at least two years and stuck around for several more. They are still actively collected, traded, bought and sold. The advent of the Internet has allowed collectors from all over the country to reach each other fueling desires to finish those old unfinished sets. However, not everyone was as big a fan of Wacky Packages as the kids were. Many of the companies that had products being parodied filed cease and desist (C&D) letters. This lead to Topps pulling some titles during production creating "short printed" wacky packages which fetch a pretty penny these days. Now to everybody's disbelief, in the year 2003, 35 years later, eBay started shutting down auctions for the Wacky Packages card "Moron Salt" which parodies "Morton Salt." This title came out in 1967 and was pulled about half way through the run because the Morton Salt Company filed a C&D. Now most Wackys change hands these days on eBay. There are some 500 auctions going at any given time. But for a couple of months you could not sell "Moron Salt" on eBay. Who could believe it but they actually forced eBay to ban auctions of a 35 year old children's trading card. Ebay's explanation is as follows: "A member of our Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program [Morton Salt Division of Morton International, Inc.] notified us, under penalty of perjury, that your item infringes their copyright, trademark, or other rights." And they followed up with the threat "If you relist this or any other similar items on eBay, your account could be suspended." This raises the question on whether Morton Salt's interpretation of copyright infringement is correct. We don't know if they were advised by their lawyers that their ban could not hold up, or maybe they realized the negative publicity was not worth giving to an obscure sticker parody. In any case they did not maintain their ban longer than a couple of months. Of course the Wacky Packages collectors thought this was fabulous. They would thank Morton Salt directly if they could, because that is what Wacky Packages were all about. It's nice to know it still gets under their skin 35 years later. That makes collecting them even more like it was in 1973 (just adding a few zeros to the prices).