Can one write a book about your favorite Harry Potter moments without J.K. Rowling's permission and offer it for sale? You cannot if it is up to the makers of the Dutch TV show Jiskefet, unless it is made clear to the consumer that this is an unauthorized book. The author of the book would otherwise profit from the reputation of the Jiskefet trademark. Unfortunately for Jiskefet, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal disagrees.
After Jiskefet found out that publisher Noblesse was going to publish a book called "Jiskefet Encyclopedia," it started court proceedings so that everyone would know that it had nothing to do with the book. A sticker had to be put on the book and/or an insert stating that the book was unauthorized. The judge agreed and the Jiskefet Encyclopedia appeared on the market with sticker, wrapper and insert. Noblesse thus complied with the ruling, but did appeal the judgment. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled that Noblesse does not derive any unfair advantage from the use of the Jiskefet trademark. This trademark use does provide an advantage, but, given the descriptive content of the book, it is not unjustified. Nor does the trademark's reputation suffer from Noblesse's use; after all, the book is actually very positive about Jiskefet. That the book would not be humorous according to Jiskefet and that its reputation would be damaged as a result is too subjective, according to the court of appeal. Sense of humour falls outside the scope of trademark law. The Jiskefet Encyclopedia may again be sold in bookstores without a sticker, wrapper and insert.
News has it that Jiskefet is appealing to the Supreme Court. Will the books be stickered again in a few years anyway?
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