Trademark Musings

Thoughts on trademark issues by Laura Winston

Are there Trademarks in the Wizarding World?

This is a photograph of a t-shirt sold in Universal Orlando’s new Wizarding World of Harry Potter area.  Hopefully you can make out that there’s a ™ after the word Hogwarts.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is fun and entertaining, although it was more crowded than the scenes of Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter movie.  It features Hogwarts Castle (with a terrific though somewhat nauseating simulator ride inside) and the village of Hogsmeade.  You can really imagine that you’ve entered J.K. Rowling’s fictional world.  The ubiquitous TM everywhere breaks the flow, however.

As a trademark attorney, I am generally a firm believer in marking.   Here, I have trouble believing that it is necessary for the trademark owner (which is actually not Universal or Rowling but Warner Bros., which has licensed it to Universal for use in connection with the theme park) to be able to assert its trademark rights.  Moreover, I don’t understand why there is a TM after HOGWARTS and not after HOGWARTS EXPRESS.  Would Warner Bros not claim that HOGWARTS EXPRESS is a trademark?  The fact that EXPRESS is descriptive of train travel is not of consequence here, because Warner Bros is not protecting the mark for schools or trains but rather the entertainment and in this case, t-shirts.

Other instances of TM abounded in the Wizarding World area.  At a wand stand (yes, wand stand), several wands available for purchase were on display.  Each was supposed to belong to a different character, and the name was under each wand — Harry Potter™, Draco Malfoy™, Albus Dumbledore™, etc.

I’m just glad that when Harry Potter was fighting the dragon in Goblet of Fire, he called out “Accio Firebolt!” and not “Accio Firebolt™ brand magic broomstick!”  The dragon would have gotten him by then.

Musings about Butterbeer (which is delicious) to follow.

January 23, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy, Universal Fan. Universal Fan said: Valid Point: Trademarks in the Wizarding World? […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Are there Trademarks in the Wizarding World? « Trademark Musings -- | January 23, 2011 | Reply

  2. I fond your post as a theme park fan and someone who covers the parks for a living. It’s nice to see a copyright attorney who agrees that the TM can go too far, especially in a theme park area that is known for being very immersive. It throws you back to reality when you see the TMs.

    Comment by Matt | January 23, 2011 | Reply

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