Fox canceled the space western television series “Firefly” in 2002 because of low ratings after 11 of the 14 produced episodes aired, but the series enjoyed strong sales when it was released on DVD and gained a strong cult following. In this video, actor Adam Baldwin—who played the mercenary Jayne Cobb on the show—performs “Hero of Canton,” a musical tribute to his character that was a special feature on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases. Baldwin also dons an orange and yellow knit cap with earflaps that the character wore on the show, the actual version of which was auctioned for charity and sold for more than $4,700.
The distinctive hat was as popular with fans (popularly referred to as “Browncoats”) as it was with the Jayne character, becoming “an unofficial symbol” of show fandom. Last month, the technology website BuzzFeed reported that a Toronto-based fan of the show began knitting and selling the hats in 2008 before additional makers established themselves on websites like CafePress, Etsy and eBay. However, it was after the online store ThinkGeek began selling a licensed version of the Jayne hat that so-called “Mom and Pop sellers” of the cap began receiving cease and desist letters from Fox Group Legal. An example email published on BuzzFeed showed that the Etsy Legal Department received a notice saying “Fox is the owner of copyright, trademark and other intellectual property rights” for “Firefly.”
The show’s star, Nathan Fillion, tweeted a link to a ThinkGeek blog post announcing that the site would donate all profits from Jayne hat sales to “Can’t Stop the Serenity,” an organization that has raised over $800,000 for Equality Now, a favorite charity of “Firefly” creator Joss Whedon. “How do you license hats?” Fillion asked in an April 10 tweet. “I don’t think FOX invented hats. Maybe just call them Enyaj hats from Erifylf.”
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