David Woods

+44 (0)1733 887793 dvwoods@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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Listen up padawans: still exists, copyright does

Corporate and Commercial / 08 January 2020

Some useful reminders of the position under copyright law arose from a recent online purchase of some Baby Yoda merchandise.

With the release of the new Star Wars movie: The Mandalorian, Disney delayed the production and release of any items related to ‘The Child’, now more commonly known as ‘Baby Yoda’. They did this to protect and lessen chances of spoilers being leaked prior to the film’s release. However, this gave the opportunity for unlicensed material to enter the market.

Copyright is the legal right that protects interests in artistic works – in this case, the interest of The Walt Disney Company in the character from The Mandalorian.

A visit to an online platform such as Etsy shows a huge amount of Baby Yoda merchandise on sale including t-shirts, mugs, stickers, crochet dolls and much more. Some of this is official Disney merchandise but most of it is not officially licensed: in other words, it is infringing copyright, or counterfeit.

Disney is usually very hot on taking action against infringing merchants; but in this case, it appears, there are just too many.

The main features of copyright and its protection are that:
– it arises when a person creates an artistic work;
– it belongs to the creator (unless other arrangements are in place);
– it is infringed by someone copying the work without the right to do so;
– the owner has to take action against the infringer to protect its rights;
– copyright protection, therefore, depends on the owner discovering the infringement and having the resources to take the necessary action against the infringer.

We frequently provide advice and assistance in relation to copyright including taking action to prevent infringement and working on licensing and merchandising agreements.

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