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The whimsical tale of “Anne of Green Gables” has always been a source of joy and inspiration for many, but behind the scenes, a legal drama worthy of its own theatrical production unfolded this past year.

In a showdown fit for Broadway, the producers of “Anne of Green Gables: A New Musical” found themselves entangled in a trademark tussle that threatened the very name of their production.

Growing up, amidst the pages of countless books and the glow of the television screen, “Anne of Green Gables” held a special place in my heart. Little did I know then that this beloved narrative would become an enduring beacon of Canadian cultural brilliance.

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s enchanting tale wasn’t just another story; it was a cherished friend that accompanied me through the whims and wonders of childhood. Anne Shirley’s spirited adventures, her vivid imagination, and the charming landscapes of Prince Edward Island painted by Montgomery’s words transported me to a world that felt both familiar and fantastical. Who knew a mishap with a slate or a playful nickname could bring such uproarious joy?

The televised adaptation of “Anne of Green Gables” further fueled my imagination. Megan Follows’ portrayal of Anne Shirley felt like a kindred spirit, infusing the character with the same fervor and charm that Montgomery had penned. It was as if Anne’s enchanting world had come alive on the screen, igniting a passion for her adventures.

However, the transition from screen to stage wasn’t without its dramatic twists. Enter the producers of a folk-rock musical, eager to bring their rendition of Anne’s adventures to the grand stage of Broadway. But their path was strewn with legal hurdles as the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority Inc, co-owned by heirs of L.M. Montgomery and Prince Edward Island, raised concerns over trademark infringement related to the musical’s title.

The tension crescendoed when the licensing company fired a draft version of a trademark infringement complaint at the producers, demanding a name change within a specific deadline. As time elapsed past the ultimatum, the producers stepped onto the legal stage, filing their own lawsuit against the licensing company in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Thus commenced the legal showdown: Anne With An E LLC v. Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority Inc.

But fear not, for in an unexpected turn worthy of a plot twist, the saga concluded with an offstage resolution. The final act saw the producers and the licensing company burying the hatchet, reaching a settlement that waved the white flag of compromise. Both parties agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice, ensuring this legal drama reached its curtain call without the possibility of a sequel.

In the end, just like the enduring legacy of Anne Shirley herself, this legal entanglement, albeit tumultuous, added yet another chapter to the storied history of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved creation. The stage remains set for “Anne of Green Gables: A New Musical” to continue its journey towards the illustrious Broadway, reminding us that amidst the legal theatrics, the magic of Anne’s world endures, captivating hearts and sparking imaginations.


**Disclaimer: Legal battles and trademark tussles are much like attempting to corral Anne Shirley’s vivacious spirit—certainly a daring endeavor! However, no characters, red-haired or otherwise, found themselves embroiled in the midst of this theatrical trademark drama. Reading this blog may provoke an inexplicable hankering for Anne’s beloved “raspberry cordial” or an uncontrollable urge to recite excerpts from the books aloud. As we journeyed through the whimsy of Anne’s world, any sudden outbreaks of literary enthusiasm or the longing to wander Prince Edward Island’s picturesque landscapes are, regrettably, simply delightful side effects. Be forewarned: you might pleasantly find yourself happily lost in Anne’s enchanting universe long after the curtain closes.


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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