Wisconsinites have developed a sense of humor about being called ``cheeseheads.'' But Chris Becker fails to see the humor in another firm duplicating the trade-marked, copyrighted and patented Cheesehead hat manufactured by Foamation Inc. in Milwaukee. Foamation recently filed suit against Scofield Souvenir & Post Card Co. in Menomonee Falls, Wis., for its similar Cheese Top product. Tom Wedeward, Sco-field's president, claims Foamation's copyright is invalid for a variety of reasons, which will be outlined in his response to the suit. Wedeward said the Cheese Top is injection molded by a custom molder in the area, who he declined to name. He said the raw material is ``flexible and spongy'' but he does not know the actual name of the plastic.
Scofield is a wholesaler of souvenirs with 10 employees. The company manufactures some items through subcontractors, while it imports others. In addition to hundreds of Wisconsin souvenirs, it offers a line of more than 100 Green Bay Packer items.
Wedeward said since word has gotten out about the lawsuit, he has been inundated with calls from TV networks and radio talk show hosts from Chicago.
Foamation's Becker said he does not really want money from Scofield.
``I'd be happy if they'd just stop making the product,'' he said, adding that the Cheese Top is made from the same material as the Cheesehead, which is molded in a poured process of polyure-thane foam.
Foamation makes a variety of PU foam products and produces its own molds. It employs 18.
Becker got the idea from the disparaging term used by Wisconsin's neighbors. He sculpted a Cheesehead from a solid piece of foam, burned holes in it and painted it orange. When he wore it to a Milwaukee Brewers game, ``Nobody would sit by me, but everyone wanted one,'' he said.
The company does have a serious side. It produces some high-tech, foam connector cases for a large maker of glass fiber optics.
But it was the Cheesehead that put tiny Foamation on the map. The crazy hat got national attention last winter when it saved the life of private pilot Frank Emmertt, whose engine iced up in a blizzard while he was returning from a football game in Michigan.
As the co-pilot, he knew a crash was inevitable, so he placed the Cheesehead over his face, protecting his head from serious injury. The pilot, who was not wearing a Cheesehead, also survived, but was hospitalized for about three months, Becker said.
``We're happy for Frank that it helped save his life,'' Becker said.