Don’t ‘Scream’ too much or you could have a lawsuit on your hands.
Written by Mark Reed on 27 November 2018« Return to Reading Room
The famous scream mask from the movie franchise was the subject of a trade mark and copyright dispute between Easter Unlimited and NBA player Terry Rozier.
When reading up on this case in the office, I had not known that the use of the famous ghost face mask from scream was already in use and so a licence was agreed for using it in the movie franchise. The Easter Unlimited company trading as Fun World for their products for Easter, Christmas and Halloween, has registered the trade marks, and has copyright for a large portion of its designs naturally including the ghost face mask.
Specifically, to the ghost face there are two copyright registrations as well as the word ‘ghost face’ registered as a trade mark and the design of the ghost face image. A spokesperson for Fun World said in a statement, “As a result of the Scream movies, the Ghost Face Mask has become widely famous and remains a popular Halloween costume mask.” This has proved a constant minefield for them to ensure protection for their design, especially when the likes of famous basketball players such as Rozier use the mask as a type of mascot without obtaining permission.
One of the fundamental developments in this case for all to consider is the apparent innocence by Rozier with his use of the mask being used visually, as a tattoo, merchandise, which even afforded him the title of Scary Terry as an alter ego because of his life-long love for the movie.
The merchandise was developed in earlier this year and was being advertised across social media etc even with him wearing it, and the ghost face design is there for all to see. According to the Fun World company, Rozier apparently also authorised the sale of his merchandise to no less than ten retailers without the prior consent from Fun World.
Now for the costs….. Fun World have put forward the following claim of compensation:
- $150,000 statutory damages for each infringement; and
- $1 million for each use of trade mark infringement as well.
We will be keen to see the development of this case which has a big elephant in the room to address. Innocence is not a defence for wrongly using another design or registered copyright without prior permission/licence, and the repercussions ca, as is shown above, be very costly.
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