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Topic: Legalities of a name.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Ed (Jan 27, 2002 11:07AM)
I do not perform or use the name MagicMrEd anywhere but in this forum. However being named Ed, I have been called Mr Ed (with all the associated songs and comments) my entire adult life. I would like to incorporate this into a persona, but am unsure how to proceed so I don't infringe on any copyright laws. I was thinking about the possibility of the theme song to the Television show as my opening theme, etc...
I realize I should involve an Attorney, but I am small time and do not want to spend much money on it until I know it will work for me.

Any Advice would be great.
Message: Posted by: Michael Peterson (Jan 27, 2002 02:00PM)
I'm no lawyer (although, I did play one on T.V.), but I don't think the name itself is going to be the problem. I would think that you would have to pay some kind of royalty to use the theme song.

Message: Posted by: WindsorWizard (Jan 27, 2002 02:18PM)
Ed... You might find that the name itself
"Mr Ed" is also copyrighted, so would suggest possibly trying an extension variation like "The Magic of Mr. Ed" or possibly "Mister E" or "Master E" or "MysterE". Your locality may dictate formal registration, but if it is just a 'your town or city' thing, you probably won't have a problem unless someone else is using it. Otherwise, I would probably just go for it and plead ignorance if questioned.
Do a search and see what comes up for the name online... might give you some ideas.
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Feb 3, 2002 11:42PM)
"Mister Ed" - as a title - is not copyrighted, since one cannot copyright titles ot other short, common use phrases.

As a character name, assuming your given name is actually "Ed" or some reasonable derivation thereof, I can't imagine you'd have a problem unless you are also a horse (of course). If you ARE a horse, forget the magic act, your future is assured just because you can form simple sentences AND work a keyboard. Take THAT act on the road.

In the event that you are NOT a horse, you might consider having someone compose "copycat" music that emulates the TV show theme song without violating the copyright. This is not an uncommon practice. Recently, on a Seinfeld re-run there was a scene where the Seinfeld character and the Newman character chase each other through the hallways of their apartment building. Wanting to give the "feel" of the "Mission Impossible" theme song, but too cheap or lazy to contract for the use of it, the producers opted for a similar bit of music that [presumably] they DID own.

In any event, you would be smart to ask these questions of an IP and/or entertainment industry attorney, before investing in business cards and such.

Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: Mr. Ed (Feb 8, 2002 02:47PM)
On 2002-02-04 00:42, Thomas Wayne wrote:
forget the magic act, your future is assured just because you can form simple sentences AND work a keyboard.

This may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my authoring abilities.
Message: Posted by: Robert LAMAR (Apr 5, 2002 01:28AM)
In Canada, it is my understanding - although I am not a lawyer, but the following was related to me by a lawyer - it is not necessary to legally change your name. In fact, one is allowed to live/work under any name they would like, as long as it is not used for fraudulent purposes. This, however, only goes so far. Governmental legal documents such as birth certificates, social insurance numbers, driver's licenses, health records, etc. would still have to be in one's given or birth name.
Message: Posted by: ddyment (Apr 9, 2002 01:42PM)
Following on from what Thomas posted, it is indeed correct that a name cannot be copyrighted. It can, however, be trademarked (registered or otherwise).

This should still not be a problem for you, as in my experience trademark law only recognizes a violation if you are competing in the same marketing space. So unless you have a talking horse in your act...

... Doug
Message: Posted by: Peter695 (Apr 9, 2002 08:12PM)
The comedian, Gallagher, the guy who smashes watermelon, sued over trademark issues and won. He knew the violators as they were his father and brother. It's a long story, but the bottom line is that he won exclusive rights to use that which we think of when we think of the act:
"Gallagher". In other words, not the name, but the graphics, the association with the watermelon and so on. Rendering the thieves powerless to promote "Gallagher" as we know.

His brother and father had stolen his act and all that goes with it.

If you have a law library nearby, you could probably get a reasonable understanding of trademark law as it applies to your situation from studying this one case as it tested many of the applicable laws. Start with the reference librarian.

I hope this is of some use to you.