Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One IP War Comes to an End

Last year I blogged about a battle between Frank Zappa's widow Gail and the German Zappanale festival. Gail wanted to keep the festival from selling unapproved Zappa merchandise. Thankfully, a German court has ruled for the fest:

Frank Zappa's widow, Gail Zappa, filed the suit in early 2008 because of what she saw as a violation of the Zappa trademark. She sued the Arf Society, which organizes the annual Zappanale near the Baltic Sea coast and sells merchandise with its version of the Zappa logo, for €150,000 ($193,000) in damages plus a further €250,000 should the Zappanale continue selling Zappa merchandise.

But the court on Wednesday found that the Zappa Family Trust, which is headed by Gail Zappa, was unable to prove that it actively uses its trademark in Germany, a requirement for such lawsuits to win. Furthermore, the differences between the official Zappa logo and that used by the Zappanale, the court ruled, were great enough to preclude confusion of the two.
While ostensibly about the trademark issue, Gail made no bones about the fact that she wasn't a fan of the unlicensed festival playing Frank's music. I leave it to you to decide whether she was really acting in the interest of Frank's music or just trying to tap a potential revenue stream.

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