Surely those all-Christmas radio stations out there have already played “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” 1,495 times during their all-day holiday blocks, but the incessant playing of that song may prove to be bittersweet for Elmo Shropshire, who warbled the almost-30-years-old song about a tippling grandmother lo those many years ago:
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.”
So he can use the characters… but not reference the song? Confusing! Although this is probably setting the stage for a dis track based on a screwed and chopped sample of “Grandma” to show up on a holiday-themed truck-stop mixtape sometime in the next two weeks or so.