Harry Potter and …the ugly counterfeiters

The last volume of Harry Potter’s adventures is a good opportunity to reveal how the IP system relating thereto is administered beyond its success with 325 million copies for the 6 first volumes and translations into 65 languages.

Besides the author’s rights protection, Warner has put in force an arsenal of IP rights composed, inter alia, of many trademarks and domain names. HARRY POTTER is the subject of 4 Community trademarks owned by Warner. They have also filed the names of the 7 volumes as French trademarks for the French titles and as Community trademarks for the English original ones.  This strategy can be discussed as in France several Court decisions have estimated that trademark monopoly could not be raised to prevent titles of artistic works.
Warner has obtained trademark registration of many aspects linked to the books, such as POUDLARD, MOLDU, DUMBLEDORE’S ARMY and ALBUS DUMBLEDORE, LORD VOLDEMORT, QUIDDITCH SERPENTARD, GRYFFONDOR, …
Warner has also applied a strong domain names policy as they own almost every harrypotter and harry-potter extensions, except for the « .biz », and some harrypotter. info. There are, of course, « unofficial » websites, such as www.poudlard12. com, www.poudlard.org, www.h-potter. com, www.gryffondor.com, […] for which a process of eventual steps of action cannot be excluded.
Indeed, Warner has a rough defense policy, which is not surprising considering the 400 products they have licensed.

They have filed many WIPO complaints as regards more than 100 domain names, such as harrypotterfilms.org, findharrypotter. com, harrypotterdvd.net, harrypotters.net, harrypottersmovie.com, harrypotter1.net,potterharrypotter.com, etc., all reserved by Harper Stephens, and for which they have obtained the transfer.

On the market, Harry Potter has been a victim of counterfeiting in India or China where false editions or false stories have been found and seized, such as «Harry Potter and the big funnel», or «Harry Potter and the leopard facing the dragon», etc. In France, an unofficial translation of the last volume circulated on the Internet a few days after the publication of the English version.

Some imitative stories, such as the Russian « Tanya Grotter », a young girl studying magic at Abracadabra school, have been condemned for counterfeiting. HARRY POTTER is no exception to a required trademark strategy for artistic works having a commercial success. With the growing number of counterfeitings going with such success, trademark protection compensates a possible inefficiency of copyright basis (for instance through domain name complaints) and constitute an other ground for raising up the total level of damages before a Court.

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