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Public domain but creators actively sue large companies

Posted: Fri Jul 22, 2022 9:30 pm
by beelzebomb
I’m confused over the legality of being able to replicate artwork for The Endless Summer movie poster from 1966. I thought I was absolutely fine using something that is in the public domain ( https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/F ... to-license but then found out that in 2020 Bruce Brown Films sued Nike (ongoing?) for copyright/trademark infringement.
BB Films has its own licensing page on their website here https://www.brucebrownfilms.com/licensing.
Once again, I find myself confused as to the legal position for creating prints to sell.

Re: Public domain but creators actively sue large companies

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2022 7:52 am
by AndyJ
Hi Beezle,

I'm not familiar with all the details but as far as I can tell the litigation between Bruce Brown Films and Nike, Footlocker et al was mainly concerned with trade mark infringement and the tort of unjust enrichment. The court records end in May 2020 without the matter going to trial so I would assume that the parties settled, following some court-mandated alternative dispute resolution (ADR). More here: The Wrap.

Re: Public domain but creators actively sue large companies

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2022 8:23 am
by beelzebomb
I did wonder on further reading if it was trademark-name related. I believe the film co has trademarked ‘Endless Summer’ as a phrase (it amazes me such 2 word phrases can be trademarked).
In which case, listing a public domain Endless Summer poster for sale might infringe trademark by listing it as ‘Endless Summer’ poster?

Re: Public domain but creators actively sue large companies

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2022 1:00 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Beezle,

Yes, you can register even single words, but that doesn't give you a complete monopoly over the word or words. For example take a look at how many times the words 'Endless Summer' have been registered in the USA (in case that link dies, there are 94 marks, not all of which are still active, which have been registered using the words). By the way, the one that's second on the list is the Bruce Brown Films registered mark.

And in the case of your second point it is possible to use the words of a trade mark descriptively, as in your example, without it infringing the mark. It would be pretty hard to sell any branded goods second hand if this was not the case. "For sale: my 2015 car made by the F**d Motor Company. It's a black 2 litre Mon**o"