The Pern Dispute (Austin Leather Works)

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Event: The Pern Dispute (Austin Leather Works)
Date(s): 1995 & August 2005
Fandom: Pern
URL: The Pern Dispute, Archived version
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The Pern Dispute was a disagreement between the agents and lawyers of Anne McCaffrey and Austin Leather Works. Austin Leather Works is a fannish craftmaker of custom leather goods.

The disagreement came to public attention in August of 2005 when Anne McCaffrey's attorneys sent a C&D notice to Austin Leather Works (ALW) for selling leather crafts with Pern inspired designs. The owner of the company, Steven C. Austin, responded by pointing to a license agreement he had reached with Anne and one of her agents in 1995 allowing him to sell Pern leather crafts in limited quantities (less than 100 copies per production run). This agreement had been confirmed again by the parties in 2001. However, when the parties failed to come to an agreement in 2005 as to what the 1995 license agreement covered, Austin Leather Works filed suit in Michigan state court requesting a summary judgment declaring that they did have the right to sell Pern leather goods. ALW also claimed breach of contract and defamation. The case was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction (filed in the wrong state). The McCaffrey family then filed a grievance against Austin Leather Works with The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in August 2015. The McCaffrey Estate also began contacting conventions where ALW would be selling their merchandise and threatened to sue the conventions if they allowed ALW to attend. While one convention (DragonCon) barred them, another, Archon, did not.

It is not clear if any further action was taken, but as of December 2015, the Pern leatherworks are still being sold online by ALW.