Wednesday whimsy

There's just one whimsy today. The IPKat is thinking of compiling a useful list of fictional villains (especially those currently lurking in the public domain) who have not yet been appropriated by IP owners and may thus be successfully merchandised by enterprising entrepreneurs. There are precedents for this: the Kat guesses that exploitation of Flashman was far more lucrative than the income from Tom Brown's Schooldays. Following a briefly tweeted duet with fellow blogger Aurelia J. Schultz, the IPKat can offer three villains to start the ball rolling:
* The IPKat's favourite (sic), Count Fosco (Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White), of whom a contemporary reviewer wrote, in 1862, "No villain of the century, so far as we are aware, comes within a hundred miles of him: he is more real, more genuine, more Italian even, in his fatness and size, in his love of pets and pastry, than the whole array of conventional Italian villains, elegant and subtle, whom we are accustomed to meet in literature";
* Lord Henry Wotton (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray);
* Javert (Victor Hugo, Les Misérables), the self-righteous persecutor of Jean Valjean -- an unhappy soul who was, it seems, never given a first name.
The IPKas has no doubt that readers will wish to add some villains of their own. Please don't nominate members of the judiciary past and present (their judgments might read like fiction, but the judges are real) or senior administrators and office holders with international and European IP institutions ...
Wednesday whimsy Wednesday whimsy Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, September 01, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. What about the fictitional well informed person of the art who lacks any creativity whatsoever?

    That's a fictitious villain that I wouldn't mind owning the rights over...

  2. "He is the Napoleon of Crime, Watson, the organiser of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city"

    No need, I hope, to worry about fair dealing given the age of the quote, in nominating Professor Moriarty. Holmes gives us a few tantalising clues as the basis for "Moriarty - the Early Years"

  3. I always thought Dorian Gray was more of a villain than Lord Henry. I suppose the IP in the name Dorian Gray has been commercialised a lot more.

    Nice post as usual Sir Jeremy.

  4. My personal favourite is the Baron Danglars from The Count of Monte Cristo.

  5. Well, even excluding the large category of potential nominees stipulated by your invitation, a lot of villainous ideas come to mind. Prominent in my mind are the James Bond Villains (though they are usually thought of only secondarily after the James Bond Girls), e.g., Dr. No, Auric Goldfinger, Sir Hugo Drax, the list goes on.

    A quick curiosity check revealed a couple abandoned U.S. applications to register Dr. No for various items. Goldfinger is actually registered for diverse products, from artificial fingernails to biometric devices, though none on their face (or cuticles) seem to conjure up images of the eponymous villain. Drax is registered for insecticides and medical diagnostic equipment, again hardly evocative of the cheating-at-cards villain from Moonraker.

    That said, it is of course open to consideration whether the heirs to the Ian Fleming body of literature (and legal rights) might not be amused by the unauthorized commercial exploitation of one or more of their villains. You probably have read Jennet Conant's fascinating book, incidentally, about the Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, Roald Dahl et al. British spy ring in America, "The Irregulars". And we all thought they were just writing books and plays !

  6. To start the ball rolling with villainous women

    Danvers (Mrs, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)

  7. I would opt for either Jabba the Hut or baron Vladimir Harkonnen. A lust for life and all its pretty and tasty things, though with absolutely not taste whatsoever. And with anything but conscience.
    Kind of a geek choice, but what would you expect from an electrical engineer? ;-)

    Harkonnen may not be worth a lot IP-wise (despite a film, a TV miniseries and at least three computergames); George Lucas did a great job protecting all his characters. Yes, Darth Vader probably generated more licensing money than Jabba, but in the end, he is far less a villain than Jabba.

  8. Plankton from Sponge Bob Square Pants, but I've an odd feeling he's kinda taken (appropriated)...

  9. The über villain has to be Orwell's Big Brother, only real and immortal when exercising doublethink, but truly evil nonetheless.

  10. I also have a soft spot for Shere Khan. After all he is an endangered species and a posh one at that (he sounds a lot like Trevor Howard!).

  11. My vote is for the original 1950's ITV television series' Sheriff of Nottingham. He got first place in a contemporaneous "Britain's most hated person" poll!

  12. If you're searching for a villain well known in Germany, the Benelux and Central-Europe, then take one of Carl May's fictional villains. Over here most men will have read his novels during their early adolescence.
    The villain I remember most vividly is Richemonte, former captain in Napoleon's imperial guard and the personification of all France's hatred towards Germany for its historical defeat at Waterloo. Whereas his sister, her daughter-in-law, her granddaughter-in-law and some others personify the French virtues:
    I've found no exact trademarks. Anyhow, beware of the tobacco trademark Richmond.

    Carl May's other villains, for instance the brothers Cortejo, or pirate captain Landola don't share Richemonte's determination to cause evil and grief to others (German, French or Bedouin).öschen


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