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Despicable IP

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Trade marks

All parents will know the pain and trauma of hearing the Peppa Pig theme tune for the 12th time in a morning. Or watching Disney's Frozen on repeat, just for a 'Let it go' sing-along. And what about traipsing around toy shops for hours on end, just looking for that one, must have toy?

I can relate to this too, but for all the wrong reasons. For the twist in this tale is that the child watching the cartoons and playing with the toys is me. As a 30-something 'grown-up', you'd think I'd be ashamed to admit this. And maybe I should be? But perhaps reverting to a child-like state is just my way of winding down after a long day in the office.

Minion mayhem

I've gone through many phases in the past, but my true love (for the moment at least) is those pesky little Minions.  And with the Minions movie released, I've seen all the merchandise popping up in shops, on TV and online and I want it…all of it…now!

When you take a closer look at any Minion-branded product, you’ll see a very similar note. Both Despicable Me and Minions are protected trade marks and copyright of Universal Studios. All official merchandise bearing the name of - or a resemblance to - these mischievous little fellows will undoubtedly be a considered part of their marketing and IP plans.

Both trade marks cover a whole host of products, industries and areas. From snow globes to walking sticks (and everywhere in between), Universal have it covered. In fact, if you fancied just using the name 'Minions' for a new brand of marmalade, you'd probably end up with a fight on your hands. And that's something I wouldn't fancy facing, unless they sent Bob or Stuart round to sort things out!

Universal appeal

All official merchandise is sold under licence from Universal Studios Licensing LLP. A licence allows a company to use the name and/or image for a specific purpose. The rights still belong to Universal Studios but they've given permission for them to be used on certain products.

As such, simply using an image of your favourite Minion for a new t-shirt design without permission could end in a pretty despicable way. I'm no authority, but I can imagine that threatening to strap you to shark on the back of a rocket heading into a fiery volcano may be how they'd warn you off.

Having immersed myself in the Minion magic at Universal Studios, it’s easy to see how the franchise has become so lucrative worldwide. But one thing's for sure - the success of brand Minion wouldn’t be half as strong if their IP strategy had been left in their own, destructive hands.

If you are looking at licensing the IPO will be at the brand licensing show at Olympia on 13-15th October.

[Photo above of Minions at the World Premier of 'Minions' by Karwai Tang. Used under Getty Images]

[Featured photo of Minion with bananas by Wilson Hui on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons]

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