The Legal Fight
Soon after Anti-Monopoly® hit the market in November 1974, General Mills, the then owner of Monopoly and the Monopoly trademark, ordered us to destroy the game and apologize publicly for calling it Anti-Monopoly®. The hapless public must be protected from confusion between the two names, the bully letter explained. Hello, we thought, who else but a reading-challenged consumer would confuse something with its opposite, particularly when both are dictionary words with decidedly opposite meanings.
And so, the ten-year legal war commenced. Our legal team consisted of the intrepid attorney, Carl Person. This defender of the little guy against Big Business was helped by his word processor and a quick-study paralegal, Ralph Anspach. Taking the field on the other side were four major corporate law firms plus a district judge, Spencer Williams.
During the Supreme Court fight, most of the corporate business establishment rallied to the defense of Monopoly, from Proctor & Gamble to the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.. Hey, we thought, it’s just a game for goodness sakes. Before this happened, Judge Williams put us out of business for seven years out of the ten. One time, he ordered 40,000 of our games buried in a Minnesota garbage dump. But two appellate courts saved the honor of the American judicial system by overturning him twice.
Big Business also struck out for once in the United States Supreme Court.
It was during this assault on us that we uncovered the suppressed background of Monopoly, a truth which was then validated by the courts.