Copyright kills movie title
TORONTO — A Toronto woman who owns the trademark for the word “wannabe” says she’s the reason the title of an upcoming film starring singer Ashlee Simpson has been changed. Robin Devine said she trademarked “wannabe” in 1985 after hearing her husband say it.
“I had never heard anything like that in my life before,” she said.
When she heard Simpson was set to star in a movie to be called Wannabe, she called Lion’s Gate Films in Los Angeles.
The working title of the film has subsequently been changed to Undiscovered, the title of one of Simpson’s songs.
I have never heard of someone trademarking a word like that, and I did not know it was possible. I assumed you need to have a product first, and then name it, and then trademark the name. But honestly, does this make sense? Do you really think a corporation the size of Lion�s Gate would roll over that easily? If they really wanted the title that badly, wouldn�t they fight for it, or offer to purchase the trademark? Personally, I think the trademark owner’s sense of her own influence might be a little overinflated. I bet the phone call was like this:
DEVINE: This is Robin Devine from Toronto. I need to speak to the producer of Ashlee Simpson’s upcoming movie.
PUBLICIST: The producer is unavailable at his time. How can I help you, Ms. Devine?
DEVINE: Do you know if they are planning on calling the movie “Wannabe”?
PUBLICIST: I believe that is one of the options they are considering.
DEVINE: Well, I own the trademark to that word. You can’t use that title without my permission, and I would want compensation for it.
PUBLICIST: Thank you Ms. Devine, we will take that under advisement. We won’t use the title without your permission.
DEVINE: Thanks, Bye. (Hangs up). I showed them.
(Back at the studio)
PRODUCER: Who was that?
PUBLICIST: Some woman from Toronto.
PRODUCER: Where’s that?
PUBLICIST: I think it’s in Vancouver or something.
PRODUCER: What’d she want?
PUBLICIST: She says she owns the trademark to the word “Wannabe”.
PRODUCER: That title sucks anyway. Let’s use the other one.
I think the lesson is, for those of you who have linguistic-inspired band names or movie titles (or anything else), trademark them now, even if you don�t actually have the band or the movie concept yet. I call dibs on The Diakrytiks.