Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tee-shirts with logos of entities of 20th century fiction

Rob Walker writes about, which makes tee-shirts and the like featuring logos depicting "some of the most memorable places, corporations and companies in 20th-century fiction." For example, a shirt with the logo Nostromo, the fictional ship in the movie Alien.

Trademark issue? Not likely. Hopefully, most consumers would not think that a tee-shirt sporting the name "Duff beer" of Simpson's fame was associated with the maker of (fictional) Duff beer.

Copyright issue? You bet.

Of IP, Walker writes:

Also, the intellectual-property issues involved are a bit weedy. (Though Ford has yet to hear from any of the creators of the movies that have inspired his T-shirts — he figures he’s helping keep the films fresh in consumers’ minds. He adds, helpfully, that he would be happy to work out a deal or stop selling any particular item if he is “stepping on anyone’s toes.”) Finally, fake brands — the parodic Simpsons products, Mooby’s in Kevin Smith movies, Big Kahuna burgers in “Pulp Fiction,” etc. — tend to be appealing partly because they are fake and often encompass a kind of critique of the absurdity of branding itself.


Blogger David Woycechowsky said...

I could see more of a tarnishment claim than a copyright claim.

I mean traditionally to have tarnishment you have to associate the product with sex or drug use or summat. However, with Pulp Fiction and The Simpsons, these literary franchises each have an identifiable aesthetic. Shirts incompatible with this aestetic would therefore be incompatible with the objectives of the franchise, with the objectives the franchise has in regrad of its own image. I see this as a form of tarnishment, and I would even go as far as to say that it is a more serious form of tarnishment than the traditional kind.

Side note to Quentin: Gimme a ring, babe.

7:11 AM  

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