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back to article Zappa's widow loses trademark case over own name

A German music festival dedicated to the work of unconventional rock musician Frank Zappa can continue to use a version of his name without infringing on the trademark rights of his estate, a court has ruled. Zappa's widow cannot enforce her rights to the Zappa trademark in Germany because she has not used it in commerce there. …

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Anonymous Coward

If people want to claim a massively broad exclusive right to their own name

And legislators want to let them do that, then they ought to give themselves an alternative, non-trademarked name so that people can, you know, like, refer to them without getting sued?

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Re: If people want to claim a massively broad exclusive right to their own name

Look, the fact that a trademark exists doesn't mean that nobody can SAY OR WRITE the word. It just means you aren't allowed to use it for your own products or services (and even then, it's only a big deal if your offering is in the same sector, e.g. both stationery or both foods).

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Remarkable

That's a very low damages claim, as these things go. Which indicates (to me, at least) that she may have had a decent point rather than just a pack of hungry lawyers to feed.

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pio
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Ironic...

Zappa was fighting with blind greed, stupidity, big music labels and now his wife is behaving in a stupid, greedy way just to earn a few dollars, exactly like big music labels. I can't belive she is living in such a poverty that she needs to go after some German Zappa funs.

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Headmaster

meh

Beefheart is miles better

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Eh? Maybe I'm missing something ...

"A German music festival dedicated to the work of unconventional rock musician Frank Zappa can continue to use a version of his name without infringing on the trademark rights of his estate, a court has ruled."

The festival is dedicated to FZ, yet the promoters don't want to contribute to the estate? In my mind this is just wrong ... "Plastic People" pretty much covers it ... May I be the first to offer the German authorities a dog-do snow cone?

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Sanity......

Sanity in a world gone insane.

Hopefully this might may people think twice before setting lawyers on fans- and perhaps similar rulings might be replicated in other EU jurisdictions.

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Another sensible ruling out of Germany...

Title says it all really. Do you think we could import some German judges to the UK? Or will they fall outside of the new immigrant cap?

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Happy

They tried to export some people to the UK once

It didn't work. Got stopped by the RAF in 1940.

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let me get this straight

Some bloke in Germany decided to start selling products about Frank Zappa without permission from his estate. The estate finds out and tries to stop him, and the courts say no? Hmm. Does this mean that said random bloke now by default holds all Zappa-related trademarks in Germany?

Also, @Anonymous coward in post no 1: it's not really a broad exclusive right, not expecting people to sell stuff with your name on and it's clearly about you without even consulting you.

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Anonymous Coward

"clearly about you"

That's the point, really. There's a big difference between selling a vacuum cleaner called "Dyson" (which is "passing off" and a trademark violation) and selling a book/painting/song/etc "about" Dyson (which ought to be allowed - but who knows ...).

Remember the long-lasting case against Aqua for the "Barbie Girl" song? That was - eventually - deemed not to be a trademark violation.

However, many cases seem very unclear. We've already seen responses to this article claiming the judge was obviously right, and other responses claiming the judge was obviously wrong. To me it seems like he was right, but I wouldn't claim it's completely obvious.

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I suppose

I can see unauthorized biographies (for example) might be something here, but I still wouldn't really appreciate someone using me (however unlikely that is) as a basis of making money for themselves, without even asking me. Hmm.

I've just gone and looked at the store itself (go my German!) and to be honest there doesn't seem to be anything to particularly get worked up about. The way I read the article, they were selling t-shirts with Frank Zappa's name all over them, etc., but they don't appear to be.

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obvious....

quite so. If it was obvious it wouldn't have needed a judge.

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It is merely art

"Art is making something out of nothing and selling it." - Frank Zappa

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Paris Hilton

The impoverished side of evil.

Wow, his karma just ran over his own dogma. Don't see much of that these days ...

I did however have a similar experience a couple of days ago when a YAHOO link invited me to see pictures of Kim Kardashian and a wax model of Kim Kardashian in the same pink dress. I was immediately seized by an evil, repugnant, anti-Hollywod thought. It was: "why pink ?"

Feeling much better now. Thank you for asking.

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Flame

Is Frank around to collect the money?

No? Well who cares then?

She should go out and earn her OWN living.

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Re: Is Frank around to collect the money?

Good point!

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J 3
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Exactly what I was going to say

These "estates" and record labels and publishers should have 10 years of rights over some dead person's work, if that much, and then it should go to public domain. If the author is not around to get the profit, what's the moral justification for these restrictions? Why do the relatives of dead artists deserve to keep leaching off of the past work instead of relying on inheritance and going to work themselves like everyone else? It's just lobbying by the publishers, of course, no morality involved.

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I think you'll find

Gail Zappa does earn her own living. She manages the Zappa estate.

But interestingly, this story is over a year old. How come el Rge has only just mentioned it?

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Is Zappa a made-up name

and does that matter?

And, popular musicians usually don't own their work, the record company does. In the case of a band, the artists may not even own that. I don't know where Zappa was on that.

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Not a made up name

and Zappa owned almost everything he did. He had several record labels and much of his earlier work was (iirc) 'recovered' back into the Zappa empire before he died.

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Flame

Righto!

AC hit on the nail: only Frank (or his underage progeny, as a special allowance) should be liable to collect anything -- the others are only leechers (the real ones).

On a side note why are we able to comment on OUT-LAW.com dispatches, but not on Orlowsky spew (such a this one: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/01/leechers_unloved/)? Maybe the reason is El Reg is engages in an undercover campaign by proxy on behalf of the payturds? It's stuff like this that really pisses me off and drains my love for you guys...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Righto!

Kindly unbunch panties. Orlowski often allows comments these days, and if he doesn't you can email him.

Or, hey, just vent your spleen on some other thread like this so I have to mop it up. Options, options.

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Pint

Apologies.

Dear Sarah, I'm sorry to have caught you in my flack -- rest assured it wasn't meant for you at all. As I said, I love El Reg, even if I have to cope with the likes of Orlowski, who seems to gather all the right facts, but has big difficulties grasping the implications -- and then gets a special 'no comments' status when he publishes. I only allowed myself to vent it here, because the matter was somewhat related. Peace!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Apologies.

No sweat dude.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Apologies.

Excuse my ire.

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Unhappy

@ Sarah Bee. Re: Re: Righto!

He also rejects comments that question his motives or integrity.

He even rejected one of my "Joke Alert" digs.

And doesn't reply to emails...

I think he's a bit of a moody bugger, but what do I know? ^_^

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Stop

And another thing!

I've got quite a few Zappa albums, mostly on vinyl.

However, I don't think his widow has any right to stop his fans from keeping his memory alive.

He sold millions of albums, and probably still does.

Is that not enough for her? I am sure she will not need to work to eat. Ever.

Stop. Because she should.

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And another thing.

This story is over a year old. How come El Reg is only publishing it now?

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