Saturday 14 December 2013


Saturday randomness

First, a call for help from fellow African IP enthusiasts. Over on the IPKat blog, here, the wonderful and highly respected (by this Leo, at least) Kat Darren stated that "when you come to look for the evidence that is put forward in support of [the] proposition [that biopiracy/bioprospecting exists and occurs to a non-negligible degree], it all looks rather thin." Can readers please chime in with documented examples of biopiracy (i.e., in the words of the Kat, where companies "go off to developing countries that are rich in natural resources, extract from them samples, take those samples in order to develop valuable medicines and other products, without compensating the countries from which the samples came.")? They need not even be African examples - any country will do.

Second, a point to demonstrate that IP infringement has no "awesome cause" exception. Again from the IPKat, here, the GoldiBlox toy company saga illustrates that good/innocent/worthwhile intentions are no excuse when copyright and a dead person's wishes are at issue. In a nutshell, GoldiBlox sells toys that are designed to encourage young girls to become engineers, or at least  to use their brains during playtime. GoldiBlox took the Beastie Boys' song "Girls" (not quite as bad as Alan Thicke lately, but a decidedly sexist song nonetheless) and revised the lyrics to support the same cause of encouraging the engineering skills in girls. The resulting song and accompanying video was used to market GoldiBlox toys. This Leo (who fancies himself a feminist, to the extent that a feminist can be a man) found himself cheering with admiration upon watching the video.

The problem is that the will of Adam Yauch (presumably a/the copyright holder of the Beastie Boys song) requested that his work never be used in advertising. Beastie Boys sued, and maintains the suit even after GoldiBlox has apologized and removed the song from the advert. GoldiBlox figured their advert was a parody, and therefore not a copyright infringement, but given that the entirety of the original song (not just a small portion) was used in the GoldiBlox work, and given the commercial nature of the use of the GoldiBlox work, it is not at all certain that a court will find this a case of parody. So, sadly for GoldiBlox, the issue is not yet resolved.

Finally, a great big Happy Birthday to Kenya! Two days ago (Kenyans tend to spend a week celebrating birthdays, so this isn't belated) Kenya turned 50 years old. Congrats!



Subscribe via email (you'll be added to our Google Group)