Thursday, 20 August 2009

Absolute Radio/Absolut Vodka/Absolute IP protection

Virgin Radio changed its name last September to Absolute Radio, following its acquisition by TIML Golden Square Limited, a subsidiary of the Times of India Group. It proceeded, according to Wikipedia, to lose a fifth of its listeners. Now, according to the Daily Mail, the makers of Absolut Vodka are taking action - and, in line with the high standards we expect from our newspapers, the headline tells us that the dispute is about copyright. At least the article itself gets it right.

Rather ironic, isn't it, that this should be the latest example of absolutism by a trade mark owner. Also ironic that the paper should confuse copyright and trade marks when the trade mark owner seems to be trying to make the trade mark do a copyright job. But the drinks company does have a meritorious argument, that confusion with a brand aimed at youngsters is not desirable.

And although the history of the radio station shows it's not very closely connected to the Virgin Group and hasn't been for some time (limited, I suppose, to a trade mark licence until last year), it also seems pertinent to ask what Virgin would do if someone launched Virgin Vodka.

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