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Is company’s statue copyright infringement of Oscar?

One of the most important things for a company is the protection of its intellectual property. This property may well define the company in the eyes of the public, making it all the more vital to see that others are not infringing upon it. In that vein, California readers may be interested to hear that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences recently filed a copyright infringement suit against an events rental company.

According to a news report, the events company had been allowing customers to rent oversized Oscar statuettes. It was also reportedly selling the statuettes as well. As the Academy has a copyright on the form of the Oscar statuette, it has a right to prevent others from using it in their promotional items and from selling it.

In this case, the dispute dates back to March 2011 when the Academy sent a letter to the events company asking them to remove the statue from their website. According to court documents filed this past March though, the company responding only by changing the name of the statue it sold. It now calls them a “Telly Award” rather than an Oscar.

For its part, the company disputes the claim of copyright infringement. It says it has already removed all infringing material from its website, and it additionally states that the figure it sells has a number of differences from the famous Oscar statuette. In particular, the two figures have a different color and the company claims that its statue is based on the form of a weightlifter. Whether this is enough to defeat the copyright infringement claim remains to be seen, and California readers may wish to keep an eye on it for possible lessons.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Academy Sues Events Company for Oscar Copyright Infringement,” Daniel Miller, March 13, 2012

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