King Features Syndicate Inc v O and M Kleeman Ltd: HL 1941

The owners of copyright in drawings of ‘Popeye, the Sailor’ sued importers of ‘Popeye’ dolls and other toys. The defendants contended that the copyright in the original work had been lost by the operation of section 22 of the 1911 Act because the designs were capable of registration under the 1907 Act (although not registered) and the plaintiffs had previously licensed other companies to manufacture dolls and other items based on those designs.
Held: The argument was rejected. The condition of use or intention to use for multiplication by an industrial process had to be satisfied or not at the date when the design first came into existence. If it was not satisfied at that time then full copyright protection under the 1911 Act could not be lost by the grant of subsequent licences for the multiple reproduction of the design.
Notwithstanding similarity, products may still have been independently designed and not copied.
Lord Wright, Viscount Maugham
[1941] AC 417, [1941] 2 All ER 403
Copyright Act 1911, Patents and Designs Act 1919, Patents and Designs Act 1907
England and Wales
At first instanceKing Features Syndicate Inc v O and M Kleeman Ltd ChD 1940
The plaintiff alleging copyright infringement, had relied on fifty five drawings of the Popeye character out of the many thousands of such drawings in the cartoon series. The defendant might have copied from any one of those thousands.
Held: . .
Appeal fromKing Features Syndicate Inc v O&M Kleeman Ltd CA 2-Jan-1940
. .

Cited by:
ApprovedLB (Plastics) Ltd v Swish Products Ltd HL 3-Jan-1979
Access and Similarity base proof of Copying
Copyright is intended to protect one person against his work being copied by another. One person must not be permitted to appropriate the result of another’s labour; it is for the plaintiff to establish and prove as a matter of fact that copying has . .
CitedKaisha v Green Cartridge Company (Hong Kong) Limited PC 30-Apr-1997
(Hong Kong) The claimants complained of the sale by the defendants of refilled cartridges for use with their printers.
Held: The spare cartridge manufacturer’s appeal failed: ‘repair is by definition something which does not amount to the . .
CitedLucasfilm Ltd and Others v Ainsworth and Another CA 16-Dec-2009
The claimants had made several Star Wars films for which the defendants had designed various props items. The parties disputed ownership of the rights in the designs, and in articular of a stormtrooper helmet. The issues came down to whether the . .
CitedGilham v Regina CACD 9-Nov-2009
The defendant appealed against his conviction under the 1988 Act as amended. He had sold ‘modchips’ which were used to circumvent copyright protection measures in games consoles.
Held: The appeal failed. The prosecution had remedied the defect . .
CitedLucasfilm Ltd and Others v Ainsworth and Another SC 27-Jul-2011
The claimant had produced the Star War films which made use of props, in particular a ‘Stormtrooper’ helmet designed by the defendant. The defendant had then himself distributed models of the designs he had created. The appellant obtained judgment . .
CitedInterlego AG v Tyco Industries Inc PC 5-May-1988
How much new material for new copyright
(Hong Kong) Toy building bricks were manufactured by Lego in accordance with engineering drawings made for that purpose. One issue was whether new drawings made since 1972, altering the original drawings in various minor respects but added new . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 03 September 2021; Ref: scu.191198