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One of my Anony-Mice from the previous post directed me to this headline in the Daily Beast: Muggles Ruin Harry Potter Dinner originally from The Guardian UK. It seems a restaurateur in London whose daughter is an "obsessive" fan wanted to host a fun Harry Potter themed dinner on Halloween.

She didn't count on the Zombie Lawyers coming out of the Crypt:

The owner of The Underground Restaurant, who uses the pseudonym Ms Marmite Lover, regularly holds themed evenings and for her latest event she had planned a menu of food and drink enjoyed by Harry Potter and his friends in the JK Rowling stories: from dandelion wine and pumpkin soup to Dumbledore's favourite sweets, such as mint humbugs. Guests were to be taken down Diagon Alley (the side of the house) before entering and would be met by a portrait of the "Fat Lady" to whom they would have to give a password.
However, Warner Bros has written to her warning that it owns all things Harry Potter: the "name, stylised logo, the name of the characters, themes, incidents and other associated indicia from the series of... books and films".
The letter from the company's legal and business department says: "Dear Ms Marmite Lover. While we are delighted you are such a fan of the Harry Potter series, unfortunately your proposed use of the Harry Potter properties... without our consent would amount to an infringement of Warner's rights."
Ms Marmite Lover has now renamed the event, as Warner Bros suggested, "Generic Wizard Night".
More at Link...
Shades of the Soup Nazi from the Seinfeld show! No Halloween Fun For You! Oops ~ I guess that's an instant "Godwin" but, oh, who cares. We're talking about WB!

I like the idea of "Generic Wizards" so I'm making a new tag for it, and I think we'll celebrate here with Generic Wizarding Terms used at Halloween that are not trademarked by WB, or even J. R. R. Tolkien's estate.
UPDATE : Here is the link to Ms. Marmite Lover's Blog with a copy of the complete letter from WB:
Generic Wizard Night
She points out in a comment below her post that she was not making any money off the dinner, and just wanted contributions to pay for the food. It was a Fan Night, and she wasn't trying to rip off WB. Good Lord!

UPDATE 2:  Ms. Marmite Lover has quoted a comment I wrote on her blog in her new blog post on the Guardian UK. The comments there are really interesting!  Plus, Ms. Marmite has joined us down in the comments section if anyone wants to talk to her.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Lawyers

UPDATE #3.This is really hitting the news now!

The BBC: Harry Potter Dinner Disappears

Sky News: Legal Warning Over HP Supper Clubs

Winnipeg Sun: Potter Party Runs Afoul of Warner Bros

That last one has a great picture of Ms Marmite Lover's cozy restaurant:


Soup Nazi: You want bread?
George Costanza: Yes, please.
Soup Nazi: $3!
George Costanza: What?
[snaps his fingers. The cashier instantly takes George's soup and gives him back his money]

Also, they can chew on this: Little Debbie Makes Pumpkin Pasties



( 51 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 26th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
One More Thing...

WB does not own a trademark on Dandelion Wine! That type of wine is not even mentioned in the books, and even if it was, I think Ray Bradbury might have first dibs, if he wanted to be a jerk and ruin someone's Halloween.

WB does not own Halloween, either, and I think Tim Burton would agree with me.
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
I'm not sure they could copyright Dandelion Wine anyways - it IS a historical recipe, much the same as Minerva's Gillywater. And of course Mint Humbugs belong to another company other than WB. That might be different if she actually intends to serve something called ButterBeer....

However, I suppose that her dinner menu itself wouldn't need adjusting - it's the use of the Potter name and Diagon Alley that WB has any 'say' over. And of course, they MAY have some control since this is apparently a 'restaurant' presumably there was to be some money changing hands for the dinner? -- Hwyla
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)

See above - I just updated with the link to Ms. Marmite Lover's Blog and she writes in a comment below the main post that the money was just to cover the food and the people invited were all fans. I guess technically the tickets are a problem, and she does run a restaurant. Oh well ~ She's turning it into Generic Wizard Night anyway.
Oct. 26th, 2009 09:29 am (UTC)
I guess no venture is too miniscule or transient to escape the eye of the corporate behemoth.

Passes the goblet of "icantbelieveitsnotbutterbeer."
Oct. 26th, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)


I didn't know they had the Pumpkin Monopoly either. *eyeroll*

A couple people on her blog have written that WB "had no choice." I love that excuse - they certainly do have a choice. They could have asked her not to sell tickets, which might make sense. Or they could have just said not to advertise this. Or they could have charged her five dollars a person and made some sweet moolah on the deal. They have plenty of choices besides being the party police.
(no subject) - shyfoxling - Oct. 26th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shyfoxling - Oct. 27th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 07:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 07:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shyfoxling - Oct. 27th, 2009 08:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 26th, 2009 11:33 am (UTC)
totally pathetic which is why warner brothers won't get a penny out of me
Oct. 26th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
This is beyond absurd-
And I guess my sister and I were lucky not to get sued! We always served our own version of "butterbeer" - we called it "green dragon ale" at the Tolkien parties and "mead" at the Narnia parties. We made chocolate frogs, as well, and served "Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans" (actually Jolly Ranchers in various flavors). It's lucky Warner Brother's didn't know about this - although suing a couple of public Libraries would be really stupid, and really terrible publicity. But not more stupid than this!
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'm a little surprised that the Starbucks attached to my Barnes & Noble didn't get sued over the drinks they sold on the night the last book came out!

They did a butterbeer flavor cider mix If I recall. And even tho' it was part of the 'party' for the sale of the books it wasn't as if they weren't making money on those drinks - and it surely wasn't going to the book publisher (or WB) - Hwyla
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
Heard this on radio news this morning and nearly crashed my car laughing. Oh man, no surprises eh ... Madness ....
Oct. 27th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
did you see I wrote a blog post in The Guardian and linked to your blog.
Interesting comments on your blog too...
Oct. 27th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)

Hi! And Welcome! No, I didn't see your blog post in the Guardian, but I will hunt that down and post the link. :)

Oct. 27th, 2009 12:34 am (UTC)
Re: here it is

Thanks for the Link ~ Whoa! I can't believe I've been quoted in the Guardian! *LOL*

Great points about chocolate frog molds being available to anyone, and butterbeer probably not being "original" with JKR at all. Next they are going to go after control of the Shepherd's Pie cartel. :)

To me, this is not about trademarks at all, but controlling the fans even into their own living rooms! WB may not realize it because they are slow, but they have a reputation now for frivolous lawsuits against individual fans and groups who don't really mean them any harm. They sued the people in India for building a model of Hogwarts during a religious festival. They tried to stop the movie "Hari Puttar" and a judge let it go forward because, duh, it's a different name. They sued the Lexicon for putting writing analysis of the books (after allowing the online version for years). Recently they stopped the kids who had put "Harry Potter: The Musical" on YouTube, although many other "Wizard Rock" groups perform all over the U.S. and UK.

Just look through my tag list for "Copyright" or "Trademark" and it's like the Ministry of Silly Lawsuits. I loved the comment by someone on the Guardian that JKR stole "cockroach cluster" from Monty Python. Along with Prof. Lupin's name, as well. And dueling with dead parrots. Oh, but that's not the same! When JKR does something like that, it's an homage and a compliment, and no one cries "she's just a loser and should make up something of her own!" the way they do whenever this topic comes up. JKR is just a creative fan of Monty Python and it's not plagiarism or stealing, and in fact she is helping them by giving them publicity. To my knowledge John Cleese has never tried to sue her or WB, maybe because he's not insane.
Re: here it is - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 01:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: here it is - lunas_ceiling - Oct. 27th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: here it is - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 07:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: here it is - lunas_ceiling - Oct. 27th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 27th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)

From Cinematical:

If the studio didn't already have a history of ire with small-time fan recreations, one could reason this was all because of her charging money. But even then, it's not a Potter-based business or even anything big-time. This is just a woman running a small business entertaining people in her home and picking a holiday-appropriate theme. And perhaps some people could think it's a WB-sponsored event with the use of logos or artwork, although I think there's a clear divide between big events and supper clubs.

In the eyes of Warner Bros., there's a lot of NO in the fan world, and they've laid the smackdown on Potter fans before. But how far should they take it? Are they in the right with all of their demands on fans? Where should the line be drawn between fan adoration (which, quite frankly, is excellent advertising) and infringement? When people charge money? When events are a certain size? Should there be a new Dumbledore army against studio law?

Oct. 27th, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)
Well it always comes down to them allowing fans to create lots of hype for whatever they're selling lately but heaven forbid they should make a dime in the process. For a woman who supposedly pulled herself from welfare to wealth, she sure seems to forget what it was like on the other side of the fence. As you said above, if someone was bottling and selling butterbeer with a Harry photo on it, that is a different story.

For the most part they should be falling down and thanking people for keeping interest in the series and the two movies they have yet to put in theaters alive.
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 27th, 2009 03:47 am (UTC)
This is just beyond ridiculous. Are you meaning to tell me they feel that threatened over a fan inspired dinner? What a bunch of nonsense.

Fans are going to be driven away and turned off by this.
Oct. 27th, 2009 05:38 am (UTC)

Yep. And it's having the Streisand Effect because in trying to squelch this little Halloween Dinner, WB is just digging their own hole . . . again.

MsMarmiteLover is getting nothing but sympathy and good publicity out of it. WB never seems to understand how this works with the public. It may be true that they feel they have to "defend their trademarks," who does anyone really believe they would lose such a famous trademark over a Halloween dinner? It's absurd.
(no subject) - a_waffling - Oct. 27th, 2009 07:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 07:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_waffling - Oct. 27th, 2009 07:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 12:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lunas_ceiling - Oct. 27th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 27th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_waffling - Oct. 28th, 2009 07:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lunas_ceiling - Oct. 28th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 28th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 28th, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 27th, 2009 09:27 am (UTC)
Wizard Rock
So why are Wizard Rock bands like Draco and the Malfoys allowed to make money? They blatantly use the name/s that are trademarked. They sell merchandise. I was at LeakyCon and also Azkatraz and HP themes were used there to make money. It doesn't make sense.
Oct. 27th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Wizard Rock

I've been wondering that ever since 2005 when I first heard of Harry and the Potters. At first people said they only played for charity, or they gave all the money to charity. Maybe they still give part of it away, but how can they afford to travel all over the country? I like some of the Wizard Rock, and it can be inspiring (I love Ministry of Magic's "Bravest Man I Ever Knew) but why they are allowed to thrive and other fans are expected to tow the line about merchandising is a little puzzling to me.
Re: Wizard Rock - saiphgrl - Oct. 30th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 29th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
It is a requirement of trademark law that a rights holder HAS TO issue infringment natice warnings to all commercial activites they become aware of. WB had to send the letter else they'd lose their trademark claim. (ms marmite lover was advertising the night on the itnernet and charging $25 a head to the public; it wasn't a `private party' or `non-profit' event) They were'nt being heavy handed or killjoys or bullies or anything like that, they were fulfilling their legal obligations.
Oct. 29th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
In which case, they could have told her to ask for permission and that it would likely be granted on a small scale like this on an event by event basis. If she had asked permission first, what would the reaction have been?
Oct. 30th, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)

I think the response would have been exactly the same.

Here's a hypothetical: Say that WB found out that someone was making Harry Potter Cupcakes and selling them at an advertised Fall Festival for an elementary school. That might technically be considered "infringement," yet would it be a good idea for WB to go after a school PTA for it? In my opinion, no. None of that would ever threaten the HP trademark and WB knows.

JKR tried to say the same thing in the Lexicon court case. She told the Judge she feared losing her copyright, and he assured her that her "claim" would be more important than anyone else's, plus there was no evidence that the publisher wanted to take away her copyright. The whole idea is absurd when HP is the largest and most well-known book franchise in the world.

See my posts above. I think it was a bad idea for Ms. Marmite to advertise this publically. But she did not know the history of WB or the way they deal with Harry Potter fans. Now she knows and she can protect her restaurant better in the future. I think they like to make an example out of a fan now and then just because they can.
(no subject) - rattlesnakeroot - Oct. 30th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - corvus_coronis - Nov. 7th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC) - Expand
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