(URGENT) Mascot Costume Copyright Help

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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cornwallparties
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(URGENT) Mascot Costume Copyright Help

Post by cornwallparties » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:16 am

We are a small, successful family run Childrens Entertainment business.

We hire out a number of mascot costumes, some of them lisenced costumes, some are unfortunately not.

3 of our costumes are look-a-likes of Viacom's Paw Patrol - 3 Dogs dressed in emergency service gear, Police, Fire etc.

The last thing we want to is breach copyright and we KNOW that Viacom are watching, we have correspondence warning us. They have also asked us to cancel a Halloween Party that had a 10 min appearance of these dogs. Also to destroy the costumes.

So how can I legally market these costume characters. He was our thoughts on what to do:

Brand our Dogs as PAWZ Rescue or PUPZ Rescue

All our characters would be given different names ie: Police Dog, Fire Dog

Add OUR logo to the costumes.

Add this to our website: PLEASE BE AWARE - IT IS NOT OUR INTENTION TO VIOLATE ANY COPYRIGHT LAWS. WE MAKE NO ATTEMPT TO MARKET OUR CHARACTER MASCOTS/FACE CHARACTERS AS “BRAND NAMESâ€￾ OR LICENSED, THE MASCOTS/DRESSES WE USE ARE THE CREATIONS OF THERE MANUFACTURERS. ANY RESEMBLANCE TO NATIONALITY/INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN CHARACTER MASCOTS ARE INCIDENTAL. SHOULD YOU HAVE THE NEED FOR A LICENSED OR COPYRIGHTED CHARACTER WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO CONTACT THE COMPANY/COPYRIGHT HOLDERS FOR THAT


Any help or advice would be very appreciated. Thank you

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Oct 10, 2016 2:05 pm

Hi cornwallparties

I have some sympathy for the predicament you face. I think your suggestions are all sensible and worth doing. However rather than just 'adding' your own logos, I suggest you entirely replace all the Paw Patrol logos and detailed styling with something of your own design. The problems you face concern both copyright and trade mark issues and you are right to try and mitigate the latter because the law is somewhat more clear-cut over trade mark infringement. The more you can address and remove the similarities between your dog characters and the Viacom characters, the better your position becomes. I don't think any court would uphold a complaint about generic dog characters infringing a specific registered trade mark for a Paw Patrol character, which at best mayl be represented by a single drawing which doesn't contain that much detail.
Image
(Image repesents registered community trade mark EU012922571 reproduced in accordance with s 30 CPDA 1988 for the purposes of criticism / review. Copyright Spin Master Ltd)


Copyright represents a much weaker and more theoretical risk simply because UK law does not recognise 'characters' per se as being protected by copyright. That said, cartoons featuring the Paw Patrol characters will be protected as artistic works, but unless your costumes faithfully represent every detail found in the cartoons, it will always be open to argument as to how much (in legal jargon - how substantial a part) of the Paw Patrol character may have been reproduced in your costumes. Clearly the fact that these costumes are worn by humans removes a considerable amount of the similarity. However the threats that you receive from Viacom or their legal representatives will be based less on the likelihood of their bringing a successful claim in court, (especially as is often the case, they are using US law and court decisions as their yardstick) than on their determination to protect their merchandising by whatever means. You could find the situation stressful and laden with dire warnings but without too much actual detail.

If they do start seriously hassling you, you may need to get your own legal advice to effectively counter their tactics.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

cornwallparties
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Post by cornwallparties » Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:40 pm

Hi Andy, thanks for you advice.

Yes we were going to come up with our own name, our own logo. Also put this n all the costumes. You make a valid point I had over looked.

Paw Patrol are 2 dimensional dogs that walk around on all fours. Ours are slightly different colourings, also walk on 2 legs and is a human inside :) :)

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