Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Harry Potter and the Disappearing Trademark Infringement Claims

In the trial of the lawsuit filed by J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros against RDR Books over its planned publication of the “Harry Potter Lexicon” (a print version of the free-of-charge Harry Potter Lexicon fan website - - created by Steven Vander Ark), so much of the media attention has focused on the copyright infringement claims that I was beginning to wonder when the parties would get around to the “good stuff” – namely, the claims for trademark infringement and unfair competition that were part of the original and amended complaint. See Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. et al v. RDR Books et al, Case No. 07-cv-09667 (S.D.N.Y.); see also previous blog posts here and here.

Well, either through wizardry or good lawyering, it appears that the parties may have reached a settlement of those claims.

As reported by the Law Blog today (link here), the lawyers informed the court this morning that they had reached a settlement on the false advertising and deceptive trade practices claims whereby RDR agreed not to use J.K Rowling’s name nor her quote endorsing the online version of the Lexicon on the cover of the book version.

In addition, Anthony Falzone, the executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, who is one of the attorneys representing RDR Books, also informed the court that the parties want to “paper a settlement” on the trademark infringement and unfair competition claims.

Sounds like the parties have reached an agreement on the disclaimer to be used on the book’s cover and elsewhere (and possibly an agreement not to use the stylized Harry Potter mark) in order to prevent the public from being confused as to any affiliation, connection, or association of the publisher with Rowling and Warner Bros. or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of the Lexicon by Rowling and Warner Bros.
With those claims settled, that only leaves that boring copyright infringement claim. (yawn – ed.)

But for those of you interested in the copyright infringement aspects of the case, which are significant especially with respect to the fair use defense, check out the following posts:
  • WSJ Law Blog Q&A with King & Spalding IP attorney Ethan Horwitz (link here)

  • Prof. William Patry’s post (here) on “The Patry Copyright Blog” regarding the case

  • Professor Tim Wu’s comments (here) on Slate about the lawsuit

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