Skip to comments.Homeric Battle in Germany -- Bizarre Court Battle over Duff Beer Trademark
Posted on 12/06/2012 6:09:14 PM PST by DeaconBenjamin
Germany's Duff Beer UG has shown itself to be a formidable foe in the courtroom, taking on all comers in defending its right to brew Homer Simpson's favorite beer.
For what was originally a fictitious beverage fawned over by a yellow cartoon character with four fingers, Duff Beer and its would-be real-life producers have spent a surprising amount of time in court. And on Thursday, yet another such legal tiff was resolved -- with Germany's Federal Court of Justice (BGH) essentially ruling that the country can have two separate beers named Duff.
Duff Beer UG, which has brewed the stuff since 2007 in the state of Hesse, had sued to have a Duff beer trademark held by another brewery in southern Germany since 1999 declared invalid. The Hesse brewery had argued that its rival had registered the trademark, but then had used a graphically altered label, thus rendering the trademark void.
After two lower courts had come to contrary conclusions, the BGH ruled on Thursday that the original holder of the Duff beer trademark could keep it. In other words, Duff Beer UG in the state of Hesse, which has become well known in Germany and the rest of Europe for its version of Homer Simpson's favorite suds, will continue being merely one of a pair of Duff beers in Germany.
Duff Beer UG has been widely successful in recent years and currently distributes its beer in several European countries. It has even been singled out for the quality of its product by the German Agricultural Society.
But the German court system isn't the only one that Duff Beer UG has become familiar with in recent years. It has also battled Twentieth Century Fox, which produces the animated show "The Simpsons," for rights to the name in Europe.
(Excerpt) Read more at spiegel.de ...
I don’t really understand the subtleties of trademark and copyright laws.
I would have thought the creators of “The Simpsons” would have owned that name, at least for beer. I wonder if that German company or companies, could use “Duffman”?
My GGrandfather invented the road grader and got a patent issued for it but he never got a cent out of it. I think one has to really enforce them or people will simply ignore the patents.
” I think one has to really enforce them or people will simply ignore the patents.”
Edison learned that the hard way and stopped applying for patents once he could finance his inventions in house
“Edison learned that the hard way and stopped applying for patents once he could finance his inventions in house”
Yes, but he REALLY learned the lesson and started cannibalizing other people’s patents, while using his financial muscle to protect himself legally. Basically, he became the Bill Gates of his day. He even did the same thing in the motion picture industry, outright stealing other people’s copyrighted films and selling them himself, without paying a cent to the creators.
I recall a Paul Harvey story about Stephen Foster.
He wrote probably dozens of the world’s most famous songs but died in a poor house. Hardly any publisher payed him for his copyrights. They just printed the songs and sold them.
Both those generalizations sound, well, silly. He had a pretty good business going when he put in a patent filing on his phonograph.
A common publisher practice, then as now, was to buy a song outright if possible. Foster churned out enough stuff with his creds that, according to one estimate I saw, he was earning what would be about $50K a year in today’s money. (Eat that, wannabe Nashville artists.) But he had a liquor habit and, as Harvey said, died poor.
My Great Grandpa was William S. Paget. He filed for the patent Dec. 26 1901 and it was granted Nov. of 1902.
Patent number: 714325.
I always called him Grandpa Bill. He was quite a character. He also owned his own railroad, a single engine and water carrier which he used to haul timber to his steam powered sawmill.
Not long before he died, he asked my Father who was still a kid, if he wanted to travel to Washington D.C. with him to file another patent. He died before he could make the trip.
Edison’s unscrupulous tactics aren’t exactly some controversial thing. A few examples:
“In America, Edison had been working on copies of the original light bulb patented by Swan, trying to make them more efficient. Though Swan had beaten him to this goal, Edison obtained patents in America for a fairly direct copy of the Swan light, and started an advertising campaign that claimed that he was the real inventor.”
“Edison carried out a campaign to discourage the use of alternating current, including spreading disinformation on fatal AC accidents, publicly killing animals, and lobbying against the use of AC in state legislatures. Edison directed his technicians, primarily Arthur Kennelly and Harold P. Brown, to preside over several AC-driven killings of animals, primarily stray cats and dogs but also unwanted cattle and horses.  Acting on these directives, they were to demonstrate to the press that alternating current was more dangerous than Edison’s system of direct current. He also tried to popularize the term for being electrocuted as being “Westinghoused”. Years after DC had lost the “war of the currents,” in 1903, his film crew made a movie of the electrocution with high voltage AC, supervised by Edison employees, of Topsy, a Coney Island circus elephant which had recently killed three men.”
“Méliès had intended to release the film in the United States to profit from it. Thomas Edison’s film technicians, however, secretly made copies of it and distributed it throughout the country. While the film was still hugely successful, Méliès eventually went bankrupt.”
“In December 1908, Edison led the formation of the Motion Picture Patents Company in an attempt to control the industry and shut out smaller producers. The “Edison Trust, as it was nicknamed, was made up of Edison, Biograph, Essanay Studios, Kalem Company, George Kleine Productions, Lubin Studios, Georges Méliès, Pathé, Selig Studios, and Vitagraph Studios, and dominated distribution through the General Film Company. The Motion Picture Patents Co. and the General Film Co. were found guilty of antitrust violation in October 1915, and were dissolved.”