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This week's IP news round-up

20 May 2005

First, showbiz. And everyone’s favourite trailer trash pop strumpet, Britney Spears is facing legal action over claims that she ripped off the song ‘Sometimes’ from a professional songwriter. According to the BBC, ‘Mr Wallace claims that a few weeks after writing the track in 1990, he executed what's known as a 'poor man's' copyright, sealing his work in an envelope and obtaining a postmark. The track was offered around to music publishers in 1994. The lyrics of Sometimes are almost identical to those written by Mr Wallace, a side-by-side comparison submitted as evidence shows.’ In America there is a system of registered copyright to enable authors to prove when they created their work, however courts will still grant copyright protection if authorship can be proved in other ways. According to the BBC, alongside the complaint, filed at a federal court in Indianapolis, Mr Wallace submitted a copy of an e-mail allegedly written by pop star Spears. In the e-mail, Spears allegedly admits that Mr Wallace wrote the song.’ So she’s not that innocent.

Meanwhile, there’s an interesting post over at the IP Kat blog considering how vulnerable big franchises are to brand damage. The post centres on the recent case of a finger being found in a bowl of chilli at US fast food chain Wendy’s. It now turns out that the finger had nothing to do with Wendy’s at all, and had actually come from a family friend of the woman who was suing the chain for causing ‘emotional distress’. But it’s too late – the damage to the reputation of the Wendy’s brand has already been done. More at

And finally a bit of good news, closer to home. Freeplay, the company that makes Trevor Baylis’s wind-up radio has reported a dramatic cut in annual losses. According to Media Guardian, ‘the company, which listed on Aim in March, reported pre-tax losses of just under $2m (£1.1m) compared with $14m in the previous year as a result of a major restructuring of the business.’ But Freeplay isn’t resting on its laurels – oh no – in fact they’ve just launched a new version of their famous radio plus a wind-up torch and mobile phone charger. Great stuff.

Until next week…

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