Archive for the Branding Category

Copyright Free Popeye

Posted by Scott

Public domain imagery is nothing new (literally), there are entire source art books for sale that are comprised of royalty-free imagery that’s outlived the “life–plus–seventy” rule of EU copyright law. But most of these images are vague and anonymous with no particular brand attached; they came from a time when the idea of branding was still a somewhat nascent concept. So it was interesting to read that the entire £1.5-billion/yr. Popeye brand has become public domain in the EU (still 15 years to go in the US) as it’s copyright expired yesterday:

The copyright expiry means that, from Thursday [Jan.1, 2009], anyone can print and sell Popeye posters, T-shirts and even create new comic strips, without the need for authorisation or to make royalty payments. ” – Adam Sherwin, TimesOnline  

It’s pretty incredible to think that such a visible icon which has fueled so many industries (restaurants, toys, television, film, etc.) will cease to be owned by it’s various copyright holders. It stands to reason that there are myriad complexities and caveats to this situation; I would imagine Popeye’s Chicken and the others will have some legal recourse to maintain their trademark when 2024 rolls around here in the US (do you guys in the EU even have Popeye’s Chicken?). Other brands soon to join Popeye in copyright-free purgatory include Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Superman (source). More info here & here

Image via erikland