(Reuters) - The Chicago Cubs are suing two men accused of posing in bear costumes as mascots for the Major League Baseball team and lurking around Wrigley Field, hustling fans for tips and in one case getting into a bar brawl.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in Chicago on Friday, the team said John Paul Weier and Patrick Weier show up for games garbed in their “Billy Cub” outfits, including Cubs caps and jerseys, offering to have pictures and videos taken with fans.
But unlike the team’s real mascot, Clark the Cub, the two impostors “seek to hustle those same fans for ‘fees’ or ‘tips,’” the complaint said, adding that they deliberately try to create the impression they are officially associated with the team.
It said the men’s behavior was damaging to the goodwill of the Cubs and misleading to fans, some of whom complained to the team about the characters’ “inappropriate and unsavory” actions.
The lawsuit said the pair’s misconduct escalated to violence in April when Patrick Weier punched a man who had removed the head of Weier’s costume during a scuffle at a bar near Wrigley Field.
Video footage of the incident recorded by an onlooker went viral on the Internet that evening, the complaint said, with Weier misidentified as an official Cubs mascot in some of the coverage.
The team said it had repeatedly asked the Weiers to cease their Billy Cub appearances, but that they have persisted, with behavior that has included lewd gestures and racial slurs directed at ticket-holders and others.
It said John Paul Weier also has operated or controlled websites, domain names and social media pages that he used to promote the Billy Cub character and sold merchandise including T-shirts that infringe the team’s trademarks.
It was not immediately clear if the Weiers have legal representation.
The team said Clark the Cub also poses for photos with fans on game days but never asks for money.
Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Steve Orlofsky