Who Owns the Rights to Rapunzel?
WILLISTON, VT. and BOSTON, MA –
Many of us remember the children's story of Rapunzel who was asked repeatedly to let down her hair. Now a company is trying to trademark that term and prevent others from using it for dolls. A Massachusetts law professor is fighting back saying that Rapunzel belongs to the public and cannot be the sole property of one company. The company has raised objections to the law professor's "standing" to challenge the trademark application because the professor is not a competing company with an economic interest. Whether the professor is found to have standing the proposed registration raises several questions: 1) Can a company trademark a character that they did not create? 2) Can the company pass the "likelihood of confusion" test? 3) Has the term achieved generic status?
The outcome of this application will have a significant impact on trademark jurisprudence.