Vulgarisation of the word “oscar”

The Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, that runs the prestigious film award, sparked a fight in several Countries around the world in order to prohibit the use of the word “oscar” as a trade mark, particularly to designate events involving awards. RAI (Italian state owned public service broadcaster) was amongst the first to be affected by this dispute, as it broadcast in the U.S., through RAI INTERNATIONAL channel, programs such as “Oscar della Moda“ (The “Oscars” of Fashion), Oscar del Vino (“The Oscars” for Wine) and "Oscar dell'anno" (The “Oscars” of the year). Subsequently, the Academy extended its fight to Europe, aiming at all the trade marks formed of or containing the word “oscar”, especially when connected to television programmes. Since 2005 the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS) has also been involved, particularly the division of Rome as it designed the "Oscar del Vino", which was broadcast by RAI Television. After five years of proceedings, AIS has obtained an initial success which is regarded as an important precedent: in February 2010 the Court of Rome lodged a judgement with which it sanctioned the vulgarisation of the word “oscar”, and therefore the possibility to use it as a synonym of “award”. The Academy was defeated already in 2007, when a U.S. judge ruled that the Academy could not have the sole rights to the word “oscar”, as the word is vulgarised. The parties potentially affected by the judgement of the Court of Rome are hundreds; in fact there are approximately 230 registered trade marks in Italy that contain the word “oscar”. This sentence sets therefore an important precedent, as it allows the unrestricted use of the word “oscar” as synonym of “award” without incurring infringement.

06/16/2010 | Copyright