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Agencies 4 Growth Festival Logo

Academy Awards sues small Belgian town for "Terr'oskar" awards

And the winner of this week’s stories from the excesses of trademark protection goes to…

A small Belgian town has had the unfortunate experience of running into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences trademark police after it ran a competition called the “Terr’oskar” awards. The award, which has been running in the small city of Ostend, was set to enter into its fourth year and awards the city’s best terraces, with the aim of improving local businesses to beautify their outside dining areas. The organisers of the legitimate “Oscars” award show are demanding that the city give them €73,000, plus €200 for each day of the festival, for their appropriation of the word “Oscars”. The writ, served on the Ostend city council, claims the "terrace Oscars" are a blatant appropriation of the famous movie award. The town, with a population of 70,000, has now had an added boost of PR thanks to the legal action claiming that giving the winning restaurateurs a small look-a-like statute infringed on their intellectual property. Niko Geldholf, the Ostend alderman responsible for tourism, said, "We're completely shocked. You don't receive a letter from Hollywood every day."He added: "I hope to get an invitation to the real Oscars in LA next year. Some Belgian filmmakers are already thinking of making a movie about this. Everybody, except the Academy, sees this as a big joke. The total prize money of the 10 Ostend Oscars is 8,000 euros, money we give to the restaurant owners. That is a little less I assume than that spent on the Oscar ceremony. However, the publicity we're getting from this is worth a lot more. It's like an early PR gift from a Hollywood Santa Claus."Niko Geldholf, the Ostend Alderman responsible for tourism, told Journalists: "They are demanding 73,000 euro a year. It is certainly not our intention to pay this. We have now agreed that the word 'Terr'oskar' and the statuettes will be ditched."He added: "The issue will be discussed at a meeting of the City cabinet on Monday."This isn’t the first time the Academy has sought to serve an injunction on a business dabbling in the use of the word 'Oscar'. "One of the reasons the integrity has built up around the award is because we haven't allowed car dealers and such to use it," said Ric Robertson, the Academy's executive administrator.According to the Academy, here are a few of the copyright troublemakers from the year 1997 alone: • Mervyn's of California, a department store chain, posed a four-foot tall, Oscar-like statue alongside a clothing display. It quickly removed it at the Academy's request.• A trophy business in Houston named itself Academy Award Trophies. After rumbles from its namesake, it renamed the enterprise Academy Advertising Specialties and Awards Co.• The US network, CBS, used clips from an Oscar telecast to accompany the appearance of a celebrity on a morning talk show. It ended the practice and coughed up a cash settlement when the Academy threatened to sue.• The Academy sued Oscar's New York Style Delicatessen in Rochester, N.Y. Owner Bill Petsos said he had been serving pastrami and turkey sandwiches under the aegis of the naked golden guy for 11 years when he heard from the Academy demanding them to use a new menu, without the picture of 'Oscar'; the Academy Award photos taken down from the wall; and a name change, to delete 'Oscar' from the deli's title and a cash settlement of $45,000.

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