Thursday, September 07, 2006

How To Stop Unauthorised Use of Bruce Lee's Name

The spirit of Bruce Lee is alive and kicking. After Bruce Lee's untimely death, on July 20, 1973, there were no statutes erected in Hong Kong (there was only a Bruce Lee Café, run by Jon Ben, which had the authorisation of Lee's family), nor in the People's Republic of China, to commemorate this incredible martial arts genius. And only in the next century, in 2005 Hong Kong placed a sculpture (kitsch) at the Avenue of the Stars. Now the People's Republic of China seems to have discovered Master Lee as a public's magnet as well.

Read John Harlow's article in the Sunday Times Online about plans to open a Bruce Lee theme park in Shunde, north west of Hong Kong, here. Is that possible within Chinese intellectual property law you might ask. Chinese law gives authors, like civil law countries, moral rights article 10 Copyright Law and and the term of protection can be found in article 21 here.

Article 10 Copyright Law states:

The term "copyright" shall include the following personality rights and property rights:
(1) the right of publication, that is, the right to decide whether to make a work available to the public;
(2) the right of authorship, that is, the right to claim authorship and to have the author's name mentioned in connection with the work;
(3) the right of alteration, that is, the right to alter or authorize others to alter one's work;
(4) the right of integrity, that is, the right to protect one's work against distortion and mutilation;
(5) the right of exploitation and the right to remuneration, that is, the right of exploiting one's work by reproduction, live performance, broadcasting, exhibition, distribution, making cinematographic, television or video production, adaptation, translation, annotation, compilation and the like, and the right of authorizing others to exploit one's work by the above-mentioned means and of receiving remuneration therefor.

Article 20 Chinese copyright law states that the term of protection shall be the lifetime of the author and fifty years after his death, expiring on December 31 of the fiftieth year after his death.

Another possible route to fight this kind of unauthorised use of Bruce Lee's name and pictures might be to argue that Bruce Lee has been a well known trademark, as mentioned in the Paris Convention and which is included in TRIPS.

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