Check out this excerpt from Muhlberg’s Brief and be sure to keep track of this story:
Religion and politics don’t often find their way into IP (thank G… let’s go for Goodness), but then we get two cases in the space of a few weeks.
In Belgium the ever-litigious Christian Louboutin managed to get an order preventing a right-wing political party from using a Christian Louboutin shoe (it’s the red sole that gives it away, remember guys!) in an ad. It was a nasty little ad which – through the use of a photo of a female politician wearing a short skirt and Louboutin shoes, together with certain words like slut and whore – sought to make the point that Muslims are intolerant of women who wear dresses that are anything less than an ankle-length. Not surprisingly Louboutin argued that the ad was tarnishing his brand, and not surprisingly the Belgian court said that it couldn’t disagree less – Belgium was in fact one of the originators of the whole dilution/tarnishing thing.
In a not totally unrelated case, the South African National Halaal Authority (SANHA) has threatened a comedian called Simmi Areff with bad things if he doesn’t stop using an image that’s not dissimilar to the certification mark of the body. Areff has used this image in an ad for his comedy show – the ad reads ‘Simmi Areff HAHA-laal Authority’. Areff says that he’s going to defend this on the basis of the freedom he has to express himself in terms of section 16 of the Constitution. He points out that SANHA has itself admitted that there is no commercial threat here and that it’s said that ‘it’s a case of Islam’ and of Areff ‘making a mockery of our faith’. Areff argues that the Trade Marks Act provides no cause of action in matters of faith, simply in matters of commercial infringement – in the Justin Nurse case the Constitutional Court did, of course, highlight the need to prove a likelihood of economic loss.
Areff, a practising Muslim (SANHA might argue that he needs to practise harder), has tried to give some perspective to this whole thing. He’s said this: ‘I’m a comedian, I make jokes … It’s like they’ve brought a tank to a Grade 3 cross-country race.’ On SANHA’s claim that he’s ‘morally bankrupt’ he said this: ‘Half of that statement is true. I am bankrupt.’
A reminder to all guys (and gals) with hair on their upper lip that Movember is fast approaching…
March for a mega good cause…