Disney dilema

The Daily Telegraph reports that Disney have backed down in a dispute over Winnie the Pooh. A pair of grieving parents of a stillborn child asked stonemason Aaron Clarke to include an image of Winnie the Pooh on the deceased child’s headstone. The parents approached Disney, who informed them that including the image would infringement Disney’s copyright. However, after being contacted by reporters, Disney has now said that it is ‘in the process of fulfilling their original request’.

The IPKat says that technically, Disney’s within its rights on this one. There’s no general exception in UK copyright law that would cover this situation. However, it would be a bit mean to stop the parents from using the image and it doesn’t seem right to welcome your character being a cultural icon up until when its fans actually want to make reference to it, and then to get nasty at that point.

Stop w(h)ining

Yesterday Mariann Fischer Boel, Member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development announced a range of measures to reform the EU wine market (press release here), in the face of 3 perceived problems:

1. falling consumption amongst the young
2. an increase in New World exports, compared to EU exports
3. increased imports of New World wines, such that ‘What was once a trickle is becoming a flood – to the point where our imports could soon overtake our exports.’

A result of these problems has been an enormous wine surplus (leading to the rather delicious-sounding ‘European wine lake’) and an increased reliance on ‘crisis distillation’, whereby wine is turned into industrial ethanol.

Part of the blame is based on a subject beloved to IP lawyers – geographical indication protection. Says Commissioner Fischer Boel:
‘[O]ur system for defining and labelling wines is not in line with many broader EU principles and international rules. Some of its elements hold back our marketing efforts – especially in the case of certain table wines.

So we load restrictions onto our producers while their New World competitors work with light-touch regulation. Faced with a demanding fight for international markets, we shoot ourselves in the foot’.

Instead she proposes:
‘With regard to wine quality definitions and labelling: it's time to cut through the complications of our present system.

Here again, some of our rules run counter to WTO provisions under the TRIPS agreement, and must be changed. It would also be helpful to bring them into line with the EU's general approach to Protected Geographical Indications and Protected Designations of Origin.

In particular, we should end the current restriction under which table wines without a GI cannot display their vine variety or harvest year. This rule only ties down our marketing efforts’.
Full legislative proposals are expected in January 2007.

The IPKat, ever the fan of competition, even when the competitors are based outside the EU, says ‘Glass of Chateau Protectionism 2006 anyone?’
GRAVESTONES AND WINE REFORMS GRAVESTONES AND WINE REFORMS Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, June 23, 2006 Rating: 5

1 comment:

not my real name said...

This is, for me, one of the most interesting areas of trade mark law - the point at which it crosses properly with branding and marketing. We have a product in Australia called the Eski, which the NZers call a 'chilly bin', just those plastic box things that keep drinks cool. Eski was the company that made the product, this was not the product's brand. However, the name became synonymous.

Why should marketers be allowed to brand their product so that it becomes the name of an entire class of product, then step in to enforce their rights?

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