Originally posted 2009-01-06 12:58:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Well blow me down!
Well blow me down!

The Popeye copyrights are now in the public domain in Europe. That’s copyright, not trademark.  As Mark Owen, an IP lawyer at the UK firm of Harbottle & Lewis is quoted as putting it:

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.

Ill gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today
I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today

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!”

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

3 thoughts on “I can’t stands no more!”
  1. I have a standing offer to bet anybody who wants a piece of me $100, even odds, that the copyright for “Steamboat Willie” will never expire in the United States.

    I mean, I would, if that wouldn’t be illegal. You know what I mean.

    Question: Between normal trademark and the TDRA (which I was just on the wrong end of: it was rather like sandblasting a soup cracker) if the trademark on “Steamboat Willie” didexpire, or failing that the copyright on something close enough to the trademarked “modern” Mouse, would it even matter?

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