Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses

Episode VII: High Court Battle

Episode VII: High Court Battle

Published: 07.04.08 at 10:38

There was excellent news last week for Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker, who has won his appeal against the group's former organist Matthew Fisher over copyright in the 1967 mega-hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale". In a judgment that makes a lot more sense than the song's legendarily opaque lyrics, Lord Justice Mummery ruled that Fisher had acquiesced to Brooker's claim to authorship of the song for too long to be permitted at this late stage to claim that he was entitled to a share of the royalties. Brief details of the judgment can be enjoyed from The Guardian, while the legally-inclined may want to read all 144 paragraphs of the judgment on Bailii.

We return next to the story of movie company Lucasfilm suing Shepperton Design Studios over allegedly copyright infringing replica Star Wars helmets (first reported by us back in 2006). Lucasfilm successfully obtained judgment against Shepperton in San Francisco but is now following up the case in the UK and the plot turns out to be thicker than George Lucas's wallet. Shepperton Design Studios is the trading company of Andrew Ainsworth, who created the original helmets in the 1970s from sketches commissioned by Lucas. Ainsworth, who also created the eponymous space nasty for the Alien films, contests Lucasfilm's claim that he assigned all his rights in the helmets and so is not permitted to manufacture or sell reproductions. According to The Times, Ainsworth is seeking to establish that the helmets are protected only as unregistered designs rather than by artistic copyright and thus the period for protection (15 years from creation in the UK) has expired. We'll let you know how he gets on in the High Court this week.

We finish this week with news that writer, director actor and all round comedy legend Woody Allen is suing American Apparel after the right-on rag trader used his image in a poster advertisement without his permission. The poster, showing a shot from the film Annie Hall of Allen dressed as a rabbi along with e words "Our Spiritual Leader" spelled out in Hebrew, appeared in New York and California last yea. Allen, who does not endorse products in the USA, is now suing for $10 million in the US District Court in Manhattan. Thanks to Reuters for bringing the story to our attention.

Until next time...

Photo credit: Gaetan Lee


Please note that this article provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.


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