»Comparing apples
and oranges is my
daily bread.«

Juli Gudehus

cul'ural asse's

Some people should copyright their lunacy.

Here are the two craziest cases I have witnessed related to »copyrighting« – both dripping with real predator mentality. Let’s see whether I can keep this short. Both times I got so upset that I fear this could become a bit of a tirade.

One of the cases was this: one evening a friend (a fledgling lawyer) of a friend (artist and media designer) told me whilst chatting, that he had recently, ingeniously copyrighted »non-rectangular book forms«. He asked me to let him know whenever I saw any violations of his right, so he could milk the delinquents for money. I got so mad at him that our chat suffered notably, as did the rest of the evening. Interestingly, he lacked any understanding for my annoyance. Perhaps you will see my point. I happen to know that non-rectangular book forms’ have been around as long as books themselves have existed. I refuse to believe that it is possible to copyright such an old cultural form. Which bonehead lawyer, at which dozy patent office allows such a thing?

And here goes the other case: a friend (manager) told me that his 20-person company was being sued by Telekom. Telekom’s accusation: a danger of confusion between the two company logos. Ridiculous!’ I laughed. Apart from the fact that both used a capital T,’ the two logos did not look remotely similar. Unfortunately, it soon emerged that this was no laughing matter. The first round in court resulted sensibly in the verdict that the logos did not resemble each other much. That did not however mean an end to the case, and it did not mean triumph for my friend and his company. The judge scandalously recommended that Telekom try to copyright the capital letter T’. My friend and his colleagues were basically told to think twice before messing with Telekom. The potential sum of 80,000 Euros to cover court costs was flagged up in an attempt to deter my friend from pursuing the case further. Telekom on the other hand, were able to call upon an armada of lawyers who spent days working to shore up the company’s dominance. Believe it or not, when it comes to debates of this kind, our government simply leaves it to the respective companies to come to terms on their own. Coming to terms’ in this case meant of course that Telekom were able to mobilise their considerable resources to get what they wanted — my friend and his company had to to bear all the costs of a new corporate design.

I do not often make appeals to our government, but in these two cases I think our country … sorry … our coun’ry could care a li”le bi’ for our cul’ural asse’s. We canno’ alow a whole le”er to jus’ ge’ los’. I really wonder a’ how lame the public reac’ion was. Admi”edly all he bigger newspapers and s’a’ions covered he subjec’. Bu’ heir emphasis was on how elekom had done some’hing nas’y again. ha’ hey ried o bogar’ some’hing as essen’ial as a le”er seemed o spark no ou’rage a’ all. When I hear s’ories like hese wo, I have half a mind o become a lawyer or poli’ician myself. Or be”er bo’h. Impudence mus’ always win, or wha’?