Bungled Teletubbies patent rocks the BBC

Delays in registering individual Teletubbies names with the Patent Office mean the characters could be caught up in heavy litigation this Christmas – aimed at preventing counterfeit goods.

The name “Teletubbies” was registered before the BBC Worldwide series aired, and is now protected under the 1994 Trade Marks Acts. This gives a watertight legal case against any copycat use of the name.

But an application to protect the individual names, devices and colours of Dipsy, Tinky Winky, Laa-Laa, Po and their playmate Noo-Noo, was only filed “when the success of the Teletubbies became apparent”, it says – in late September. As it takes three months to register trademarks, the Teletubby toys will not be protected by Christmas time.

This leaves the BBC, and Teletubby makers Ragdoll Productions, more vulnerable under UK law. As the Teletubby stock runs out, rogue traders are meeting demand with fake goods. A trader could, for example, supply “Laa-Laa” goods including toys and get round the trademark laws.

The BBC will pursue unauthorised vendors under common law, but this is expensive and harder to win than trademark infringement.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here