Harry Potter Hypo

So in my continuing quest to complete the Harry Potter series of books before watching the new movie, I’m plugging through Book 7 now.  I started wondering, though, what would happen if a real high school decided to name its houses after those in Harry Potter ie Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin?  Would there be any kind of IP violation at all?  It’s difficult to think of what the violation could be.  And what if the school used the same “house colors” as described in the books, but didn’t copy any of the Harry Potter costumes or props or other merchandise related to the movies?

I know there’s a bunch of unauthorized “Harry Potter” products and paraphernalia on the market these days, but I was wondering particularly about the question in the high school context.

8 thoughts on “Harry Potter Hypo

  1. Is an actual violation? I’m not sure.

    Would there be litigation? You betcha… just look at the copyright notice and see whose interests (and the variety of interests) are asserted.

    Too many authors, film producers, etc. think that IP relating to literary works begins and ends with copyright. Although I think the copyright notice in the front of Book 7 (which is amusingly different from that in front of Book 1) is vastly overreaching, it does expose some other theories at issue… and that could certainly generate a lot of billable hours and substantial Big-Industry-v-Small-Artist/Proprietor outrage, particularly since it’s highly doubtful that any proceeds of such a suit would be shared with Joanne Rowling.

  2. I’ll have to get a physical copy of the book to look at the copyright notice. I’m listening to an Audio CD and I don’t think it has the complete copyright notice on it, although usually they read the notice at the end of the CD and I haven’t gotten that far yet. [I probably should also check the CD case for the notice.]

  3. I just got back from a trip to Orlando which included the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of merchandise.

    What did surprise me was that they placed trademark notices (TM) inside the actual house crests. For example, they had scarves with embroidered patches of the house crests (Gryffendor, Ravenclaw, etc.) on them, and the house crests had a little “TM” embroidered within it.

    Curious.

    So it seems that they are claiming trademark protection in the house names and symbols.

  4. Thanks for that, Scott. I assume it’s the movie studio rather than J.K. Rowling or her publishers that is claiming the TM rights in those names and logos? Still, it’s an interesting thing to claim a TM in.

  5. That’s exactly what I was referring to.

    Copyright notice from the US edition of book 1:

    Text copyright © 1997 by J.K. Rowling.
    Illustrations copyright © 1998) by Mary GrandPré

    Copyright notice from the US edition of book 7:

    Text copyright © 2007 by J.K Rowling
    Illustrations by Mary GrandPré copyright © 2007 by Warner Bros.
    HARRY POTTER & all related characters and elements are tm and © WBEI.
    Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K. Rowling.

  6. Thanks for that, C.E. – seem to be some fairly broad claims there as you earlier suggested!

  7. What I find most fascinating about it is Warner’s claim on the illustrations for the book… which has not, as of this date, been registered, but was characterized for book 5 (Order of the Phoenix) as work for hire. Just one problem with that: There’s no way to fit the cover design and/or interior illustrations for a work of fiction that are NOT maps into the categories defined in § 101, and we don’t have the Superman/Archie problem of an undefined work for hire doctrine under the 1909 Act…

  8. Vrei să ştii care sunt următoarele aventuri ale lui Harry Potter şi care sunt adunate sub urmatorul volum numit…Harry Potter şi Scoala Aurorilor.
    Volumul nu este scris de J.K. Rowling, ci de cineva care a citit carţile ei toate şapte de peste 40 de ori(împreună),iar aceasta este viziunea sa asupra următoarelor aventuri.
    http://harrypotterlascoalaaurorilor.blogspot.com/
    Pentru fanii lui Harrry Potter!

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