The Segar drawings are out of copyright [yes, that’s how they put it over there — RDC], so anyone could put those on T-shirts, posters and cards and create a thriving business. If you sold a Popeye toy or Popeye spinach can, you could be infringing the trademark.
I assume he means “anyone may put those on T-shirts, posters and cards and create thriving business,” or otherwise why would he be practicing law? But I do think he illustrated the distinction between exploiting copyright and trademark rights nicely, and in a manner quite a few lawyers could do to comprehend.
In any case this is the second time in a month I’ve had the opportunity to think about that beloved ancient mariner who was once my daily friend. But alas I’ll have to hold back on creating my own thriving “green” (spinach-based) enterprise: As the article points out, the rule in the EU is that copyright expires 70 years after the death of the creator, whereas thanks in part to America’s other vertically romantically mismatched gargoyle it will be no less than another quarter century before I can — er, may — move into the Popeye fashion field on this side of the pond.
That’s assuming, rashly, that that bunch of swabbies Popeye would call “Congricks” doesn’t do the bidding of Hearst, Disney and company and award them an extension for yet another generation of their respective monopolies before then. After all, if anyone can say “I brings home the ham ’cause I yam what I yam,” it’s Congricks (who also perfected the concept enunciated by Popeye’s famous friend at right).
Free expression: Quoting Popeye one more time, “That was a nice ship we had once!”