Parody TV show broadcast blocked


The Harju County Court has issued a ruling, which took effect at the beginning of September, preventing a commercial television channel from broadcasting a parody of a children's television programme produced by Estonian Public Broadcasting (EPB).

In April this year EPB filed several trademark applications based on the titles of a number of its children's programmes. It also applied to register the names and/or graphical representations of the characters featuring in these programmes. One set of applications related to its well-known Leopold television show. The applications remain pending at the time of writing.

Commercial television channel TV 3 planned to broadcast a parody of the Leopold programme called Leo Põld Tonight. In response, EPB brought an action before the court seeking an interim order preventing the broadcast. The Harju County Court upheld the claim and has blocked TV 3's broadcast to make a detailed assessment of whether the use of the name Leo Põld Tonight for its parody show is likely to be infringing.

EPB will have to base its claim on trademark law rather than copyright law since the Estonian Copyright Act permits the use of a lawfully published work in a caricature, parody or pastiche to the extent justified by such purpose. Such use requires neither the authorization of the author, nor a payment of remuneration to the author. The Trademark Act, on the other hand, allows the owner of a trademark to prohibit third parties from using in the course of trade any sign which is identical or similar to the protected mark which is granted legal protection. Thus, by applying to register the titles and character names of its children's programmes as trademarks, EPB will have greater level of protection against use of similar or identical names by third parties in a caricature, parody or pastiche. However, it will only have such rights once the applications mature to registration.

Kärt Laigu, Käosaar & Co, Tallinn

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