The UK’s IPKat blog is one of the most informative and amusing IP blogs in the world. Hands down it has the best pictures. Yesterday’s postings were no exception, starting with this lead:
Quis custodes custodiet?
This is too good to save till Friday, says the IPKat, who thanks fellow blogger Peter Groves for sending it to him. Designer Hannah McHalick is suing the Kent Police for allegedly copying a slogan from her baby clothes range for an online shop. The police are apparently selling baby clothes bearing the slogan "I've Been Inside For Nine Months".
Ms McHalick says the slogan is a rip-off from her product range, which includes black-and-white convict-style baby grows, bibs, T-shirts and hoodies with the slogan "Been inside for nine months". The police deny infringement, maintaining that their product range is different because they have added the word "I've" before Ms McHalick's slogan.
The IPKat is most amused. He doubts whether the words "Been inside for nine months" are an original literary work in their own right. He also fails to see how, if that slogan were an original literary work, the addition of the word "I've" would make any difference to the question of unlawful reproduction -- which all goes to show that the criminal enforcement agencies could probably do with a refresher course on their IP law. Merpel says, let's say it's a trade mark matter: the slogan would either be descriptive (for babies that go to their full term) or deceptive (for those born early) -- and would the relevant consumers regard the slogan as an indication of the origin of the goods? But there's always passing off.
The result in the U.S. under copyright would be the same: Copyright Office regulations and a large number of court decisions establish that there is no copyright in names, words, or short phrases. As for the Kent police matter, you absolutely must go the site to see the pictures which are worth a few thousand words (are you listening Sweet & Maxwell?); here’s the link, which hopefully will be bookmarked: