IP Rights in Fictional Characters explored by Maltese Court
News    ·   22-09-2017
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AUTHOR: Sharon Xuereb; Terence Cassar; Alexia Valenzia

In June 2017, the Maltese Civil Court explored the extent of protection afforded to  fictional characters in the cases of Bronk Productions Limited vs Fredrick Camilleri and Fabian Scerri De Carlo (cases 668 and 669/2009, First Hall Civil Court 19/06/2017).

The plaintiff contended that the defendants’ character “Gawdenz Bilocca” infringed upon his intellectual property rights as the character was allegedly copied from the plaintiff’s earlier character “Gawdenz Spadaru”; both characters were fictitious and comical lawyers.

The Court delved into the characteristics of the two fictitious characters, their prominence and considered the initiatives taken to commercialise and develop each character.

Whilst the considerations given by the Court and the arguments put forward throughout the cases were mostly firsts in Malta, ultimately the cases were decided on the basis of traditional intellectual property considerations; namely the holding of a validly registered trademark, failure of proving rights to an earlier mark and failure of proving similarities to the extent of giving rise to copyright infringement. 

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