PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The original designers of the Phillie Phanatic, who are embroiled in a lawsuit with the team over the beloved mascot, are speaking out.
Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison registered the copyright in 1979 and licensed the Phanatic to the Phillies in 1984.
With the rights set to expire next year, the artists say they were in the middle of negotiations with the team when the Phillies suddenly sued.
In a statement to Action News, the artists say they're incredibly disappointed and that "At the Phillies request more than 40 years ago, we created the Phanatic, giving him a story and a life. Over the decades since, we have taken care of him, even patching him back together when he needed it. While we very much want the Phanatic to remain the Phillies mascot, we will not yield to this lawsuit tactic."
At the heart of the copyright dispute, the Phillies say in their suit, the mascot was their idea and that Harrison/ Erickson just executed it.
The team goes onto say that while it declined to purchase the copyright of the beloved character for $1,300 at the time, it has devoted millions of dollars into promoting the mascot.
The suit is also trying to prevent the New York firm and any other team from using and selling Phanatic products.
Designers of the Phillie Phanatic speak out amid lawsuit