The cat's real name was Ledaig and he was one of three ginger toms that live in the town. He was well known to the locals and slept all over public and private property. Stewart created a Facebook page for him in February 2011 (check out the handsome chap on Facebook here and on his own website here), several months prior to the commission of a children's book by Birlinn. But what, exactly, was the legal basis for the alleged infringement? It has been a little tricky to get a handle on what the artist claimed copyright in; at points it appeared to be rights in the title and at others, to the concept of a fictional celebrity cat from Tobermory as expressed on a Facebook page. Essentially, it appears to have been the idea of the cat that was contested, and it is almost trite to restate the basic principle that a concept or idea is not capable of copyright protection. On the face of it, there does not seem to be a case for copyright infringement against the publisher and author. However, trade mark proceedings appear to be afoot. Stewart is currently seeking trade mark registration for 'Tobermory Cat', and if a letter alleged to be from the publisher's lawyer posted on the Facebook page is accurate, it is likely to be subject to opposition proceedings if registration is accepted.
So why has this Kat brought this bit of news to the IPKat readers attention? Well...a cat, copyright and publishing were involved, but also because the dispute deteriorated into an iniquitous internet campaign against the author because of the misapprehension of the basic rules of copyright. Gliori was named on the Facebook page and has since been victim to abuse on Twitter (she has blogged about her experience here), while the publisher reports receiving hate mail and anonymous phone calls (as reported by the Guardian here)...all over a ginger tom cat, that slept on cars and lived in Tobermory. Copyright can seem curious at times, but not as curious as how artists and authors who are meant to benefit from copyright protection can occasionally be unknowing of its substance.