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IP and the Oscars

Amongst the big questions following the recent Oscars ceremony was surely “is the intellectual property of the Oscars statue protected?” No? OK, maybe not but we thought it would be interesting to find out!

It turns out that it is. The statuette, known commonly as the “Academy Award of Merit”, is registered with the US Copyright Office as a protected work of art and recognized by the design trademark rights which were upheld in a 1991 ruling by of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which stated that the Oscar statuette was entitled to “the strongest possible protection against infringement.”

The Academy of the Motion Picture Arts and Science has been known to actively defend its copyrights and trade marks.

For example, when the Academy discovered an eBay listing for an “Academy Award Hollywood Metal Movie Acting Trophy Prop Replica” with a price tag of $850 in 2013 it sent creator Jaime De La Rosa a cease and desist letter in an attempt to stop him selling the replicas.

De La Rosa unfortunately didn’t take action after the letters, leading to the Academy suing. A judge eventually ordered De La Rosa to pay a whopping $375,000 for infringing copyrights and trade marks held by the Academy.

It goes to show that it pays to make sure you look after your IP rights. For more information, please get in touch with one of our expert attorneys.


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