Many Americans have a distant childhood memory of the magical machines found at zoos, museums and amusement parks that created on the spot slightly-still-warm plastic souvenir animals and other figurines with seams down the backs where the two sides melded together.

You may be surprised to learn that the Mold-A-Rama trademark owner Paul Jones filed a suit in federal court in Chicago in December to defend its mark against alleged infringement, reports the Chicago Tribune. The plaintiff seeks money damages and an order not to use the Mold-A-Rama name.

The defendants are Bruce Weiner, a major Georgia memorabilia collector, who is selling refurbished Mold-A-Rama machines using the original product name, as well as his marketing firm. He reportedly has upgraded over 20 of the machines.  

The Tribune reports that the defendant collector tried to sell (unsuccessfully) three of the updated machines at an Illinois coin show in November for around $30,000, resulting in a cease-and-desist letter from the Mold-A-Rama owner’s lawyer. The complaint reportedly alleges that Weiner “materially altered” the machine with “modern parts” that could cause confusion in the marketplace resulting in customers or potential customers to believe that defendant’s refurbished and updated machines it sells are affiliated with or sponsored by the plaintiff’s service business that delivers only Mold-A-Rama as authentically and originally manufuctured.

The article describes a video made by Weiner in which he says he is putting the restored machines up for sale to recover some of the restoration expenses. T

The Chicago Tribune article describes a fascinating history of this product and trademark. First owned by Automatic Retailers of America (later called Aramark), the product started in 1962 and was featured at the Seattle and New York World’s Fairs. Mold-A-Rama bought many of the machines in 1971, followed by Jones’ business buying the “abandoned Mold-A-Rama trademark” in 2007.

Jones is cited as saying they have “preserved Mold-A-Rama’s legacy,” the “quintessentially Chicago business.”

Neither defendant responded to the newspaper’s requests for commentary.