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Halloween & Intellectual Property

30 October 2015 | Posted in News

There are some spooky goings on at Cracking Ideas HQ, and Halloween has brought out some particularly ghoulish intellectual property (IP) stories. From the sweets in our trick and treat bag, the magic of the movies in our favourite scary films and wizard stories, intellectual property can protect your creation from a very unhappy ending.
How do you identify the sweets in your trick or treat bag? Probably due to its intellectual property. Whether it’s the brand name of your chocolate bar (trade mark) or the special ingredient used within that chocolate bar, it will be protected by a form of IP.
Cadbury’s is as well known by the colour of its packaging as its name. The colour Pantone 2865cc has been used by Cadbury since the early 20th century and in 2012 won a legal battle to stop any other firm using the same colour on packaging their chocolate goods. However just one year later, rivals Nestle won their appeal to overturn the decision meaning Pantone 2865cc is no longer a protected registered trademark for Cadbury.
The technology used today to make witches soar in film was developed by special effects pioneer Peter Vlahos (1916-2013). Peter held over 35 patents for blue screen methods in filming, and the principles of his technology are still used in blockbusters such as ‘Avatar’ and BBC hit ‘Doctor Who’. Vlahos’ blue screen technology or ‘colour difference system’ won two Oscars in 1964 and 1995.
Another pioneer of her field is author JK Rowling, who soon shot to fame in 1997 when the first book of her magical series ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was published. I remember that Rowling was originally granted an advance of just £1500 by her first editor but after creating a treasure chest of intellectual property, Rowling became the world’s first female billionaire author at 38 according to the Guinness World Book of Records in 2004. The Harry Potter franchise is now approximately worth $1 billion (£627 million) as a result of the 1999 Warner Bros movie deal, video and DVD sales as well as video games and various theme parks. These are obviously all separate to the books, which have sold 450 million copies across the globe in 55 different languages. 
In the spirit of Halloween, a little known prop designer Andrew Ainsworth gave the mighty movie company Lucasfilm a fright back in 2011 by winning an IP case allowing him to continue selling replicas of the infamous Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets that he’d designed for the 1976 blockbuster almost forty years previous. The High Court, Supreme and Court of Appeal all ruled in favour of Mr Ainsworth as LucasFilm could not convince the courts that the 3D works were sculptures, meaning the copyright expired 15 years from the date they were marketed. Ainsworth’s empire truly did strike back.
So there we go, even Halloween can be protected by Intellectual Property. If you’d like to learn more about the different types of IP, you can download our free lesson plans and resources from this website.

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