We have yet another controversy over our ever-expanding copyright and trademark ruling. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit is looking at a copyright injunction issued to stop a company, Kangaroo Manufacturing, from selling certain costumes including a large banana.
We recently discussed an absurd effort to trademark a hashtag or the word “chunky” for soups. We have been discussing a disturbing trend in copyright and trademark claims over things occurring in public or common phrases or terms. (For a prior column, click here). We have often discussed the abusive expansion of copyright and trademark laws. This includes common phrases, symbols, and images being claimed as private property (here and here and here and here and here and hereand here and here and here and here and here). This included a New York artist claiming that he holds the trademark to symbol π. Even the Trump legal team sought to trademark “Keep America Great.” Campbell insists that it has spent over a billion dollars on advertising, including clunky references that have been parodied. With more than $13 billion worth of Chunky soup sold since 1988, the company insists that it has an indelible association with the term.
In this case, Courthouse News Service reported that Kangaroo Manufacturing’s banana costume was found to resemble that of costume-maker Rasta Imposta. Bananas however appear in public and tend to look pretty similar. Rasta merely made a costume resembling a natural image or object. Yet, Rasta insists that its banana is an interpretation with distinct elements.
New Jersey. U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman handed down a . . . well . . . split decision. He ruled for Rasta on two issue and Kangaroo on one issue.
Notably, he noted “It seems safe to posit that there is no universal view of what a banana costume is or what it should look like.”
However, when one makes a costume to look like a banana, the range of a banana-like costume is limited by nature.
The Third Circuit will now be heard in the overripe case of Bananagate.