There are certain aspects of the movie that creates a distinct identity for it among its audience. That can be the title of the movie or any character, which makes it a popular movie among its viewers. The problem arises when someone else tries to release a similar kind of movie with the same title. This leads to confusion among the audience who are deceived in the end and thereby affecting the reputation of the original filmmaker. Filmmakers aware of this have shifted their focus on copyrights lately, but it is quite interesting to note that certain aspects of movies like movie titles cannot be copyrighted. In addition, copyright could prove costly, given the progressive nature of the film industry with respect to ancillary revenue opportunities. Hence, the following parts of the article briefs an overview of trademark law and its importance to the films brand management effort.
Filmmakers tend to underestimate the importance of trademark and focus their attention to copyright. But as stated above copyright has certain limitations regarding the protection of movie title or a character associated with the movie. So, what is a trademark? Trademark can be a word, logo,number picture,design,sound or even smell, which distinguishes the goods or services of one trader from those of another. These signs could qualify as a trademark only if it is distinctive and not used previously for an identical product. To know more, https://bitcoinexchangeguide.com/disney-stops-justin-suns-attempt-to-trademark-tron-citing-brand-confusion/
What distinguishes Trademark from copyright?
The major distinguishing factor of the trademark from copyright is the registration process. The full legal effect of ‘copyright’ arises upon the creation of the work ;be it the script, sound recording, etc. In addition, the copyright has a short duration. Whereas, a trademark must be registered at the relevant patent/Trademark office and once registered, the right remains forever.
Ø Registering a trademark
If any aspect of film, which affects its long-term film related branding objective, is vulnerable for exploitation it is advisable to register trademarks. For example, your production company name. Likewise registering the title of a movie or the name of a movie character that has a possibility of exploitation, a sequel or merchandising opportunity ,will be a worthy move.
Ø Merchandising royalties
Trademarking your goods/services can provide you merchandising royalties and gain profit by licensing out such rights. The trademark rights have a list of classes of goods relevant to the film industry that can be registered. Some of them are like cinematographic apparatus and instruments, paper, clothing, figurines, toys ,online audio/visual works etc.
Ø Law of ‘passing off’
The reputation or branding that is attached to a name or business, built over a time, has a great value of its own. The ‘law of passing off’ can solve the damage to goodwill and reputation. You can attach a TM symbol to the movie title to claim unregistered trademark rights and by this, you are entitled to ‘passing off’ action if another filmmaker tries to tarnish your reputation. However, there are certain conditions to establish before being entitled to this right like proving you have suffered or likely to suffer, damage to your goodwill or reputation because of the other party.
Finally, always take proper precautions to guard against the infringements. It is advisable to seek the help of a lawyer in case of any doubt.