Big Red will appear in an Italian court next week to begin defending his originality and heritage. Western Kentucky University and its licensing partners are suing Italian TV company Mediaset for $250 million in a copyright infringement dispute.
The university claims "Gabibbo," a popular and irreverent TV character in Italy is a direct copy of Big Red's likeness. Gabibbo is involved in several merchandising promotions and even had a #1 album on Italy's record charts in the 1990's.
One of the show's producers told an Italian magazine in 1991 that Gabibbo was based on Big Red, but WKU says it hasn't seen a dime of revenue from Gabibbo merchandise sales.
Big Red and an advisor are set to hold a press conference in Italy on Monday to introduce the "real Big Red" to the Italian press and public, who have indicated a high level of interest in the mascot dispute.
Lawyers for both sides (and perhaps the mascot himself) will appear in an Italian court next week for a pretrial hearing, though a final decision could still be more than a year away.