5 Creepy Facts about Halloween and IP

godzilla

Halloween and intellectual property have an unlikely, and rather acrimonious relationship when money, reputation and goodwill are involved. Below you’ll find a few creepy facts from the crypt about what happens when Halloween and IP collide in the most insidious of ways.


1) ‘Nosferatu’, the unauthorized adaptation of the novel ‘Dracula’, rose from the ashes after a court ordered the destruction of every copy of the film //

Nosferatu

Image Courtesy: Insomnia Cured Here

Nosferatu producer, Albin Grau, wanted to create an expressionistic retelling of the novel Dracula, the rights of which were owned by the estate of Bram Stoker. While the book was already in the public domain in the U.S. due to an error in copyright notice, in Grau’s native Germany, the work hadn’t lapsed. The rights of Dracula weren’t sold to Grau; however, he commenced production on the film, released it, and was subsequently sued for copyright infringement, irrespective of efforts made to vary the film from the book. The Court found in favour of the estate of Bram Stoker due to the derivative nature of the work, and ordered the destruction of all copies of Nosferatu. Nonetheless, not all copies of the film were destroyed, as one found its way to the U.S., and  since Dracula was already in the public domain in the U.S., the Court couldn’t order its destruction. It is from this copy of Nosferatu that every copy of the film existing today was made.


2)  The trademark of pop culture icon ‘Godzilla’, is guarded by a legal team that’s even more fierce than the radioactive monster //

Godzilla

Image Courtesy: Yusuke Umezawa

Godzilla’s owner, Toho Co.Ltd, is known for fiercely guarding the Godzilla trademark by policing movie studios, toy manufacturers,  the video game and music industry, book publishers, food chains, bloggers, and alcohol companies.  Since the 1990s, Toho’s attorneys, Charles Shephard and Aaron Moss of Greenberg Glusker, have led the reptilian monster to victory through a string of lawsuits, court injunctions, warning letters and settlement agreements. While some state that Toho’s approach is “very aggressive” and it takes “a broad view of its rights,” Aaron Moss believes that “Toho is not out there to extract a pound of flesh,” rather, Toho is simply attempting to “protect their brand.”


 3) Zombie Boy, of Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ video,  accused 20th Century Fox Television of using his likeneness  in ‘American Horror Story’  //

ZombieBoy

Image Courtesy: Zing Zong

Rick Genest, also known as Zombie Boy, resolved a copyright dispute with Twentieth Century Fox Television, the producer of the television series ‘American Horror Story’, for the use of tattoo artwork similar to his for a scene in the pilot episode of the series.  While Rick Genest contends that he  was not approached by Fox to license what he considers to be the use of his likeness or copyrighted body art in ‘American Horror Story’, he maintains that there was no intent to connect him with the character.  The specific settlement was not disclosed.


 4) ‘Walking Dead’ collaborator has sued childhood friend and creator of  AMC’s hit zombie series for fraud

zombie

Image Courtesy: Gianluca Ramalho Misiti

Tony Moore, longtime collaborator on AMC’s extremely popular ‘The Walking Dead’, is suing Robert Kirkman over the proceeds for the  zombie series.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, Moore filed a lawsuit claiming he was tricked into signing his interest in ‘The Walking Dead’ over to Kirkman in 2005. In the complaint, Moore claims he initially signed a deal with Kirkman which would entitle him to 60 percent of “Comic Publishing Net Proceeds” and 20 percent of “motion picture net proceeds” for ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Brit’; and 50 percent of “motion picture net proceeds” from ‘Battle Pope’. In 2005, Moore claims he was informed by Kirkman that a television deal for ‘The Walking Dead’ was on the table, but Kirkman would not be able to complete the deal unless Moore assigned all of his interest in ‘The Walking Dead’ and other works to Kirkman. Moore signed the contract, believing the deal would not go through and claims Kirkman was attempting to con  him out of his 50 percent interest in the “motion picture net proceeds of ‘The Walking Dead’Robert Kirkman calls the  lawsuit “ridiculous” and insists his childhood friend receives proper royalty payments for the long-running comic, as well as the series.


6) The shape or configuration of your Halloween candy may be registered as a non-traditional trademark //

The shape or configuration of your favourite Halloween candy may be registered as ‘non-traditional’ trademarks.  A few of these non-traditional trademarks include the jewel shape of a Ring Pop, three-dimensional oval shape of Tic Tacs,  the cone shape of Hershey’s Kisses, and the pyramid shape of Toblerones.

Happy Halloween!  Don’t forget to keep up with us on twitter @IPEyeBlog, and Facebook @IPEyeBlog!

Links to images //
Nosferatu by Insomnia Cured Here
Godzilla by Yusuke Umezawa
Zombie Boy by Zing Zong
Zombie by Gianluca Ramalho Misiti
Halloween Candy by Juushika Redgrave

 

About: Tracy Ayodele

Tracy Ayodele is a Canadian lawyer, called to the Bar of Ontario, and a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School. She has a keen interest in IP policy, social innovation and the intersection of technology, development and start-up culture in emerging economies. She is a spirited legal researcher and writer, and co-authored “Hot-tubbing in Canadian Patent Litigation: A Preliminary Assessment” published in the Intellectual Property Journal.

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