Popeye, Get Your Popeye

31 December 2008

As of tomorrow, the beloved spinach spokesman will be in the public domain in most of the world.  In the EU, pretty much the rest of Europe, a smattering of Latin American countries and a handful of African countries, the seventy-year copyright protection on Popeye ends on January 1st, 2009.  (Some countries count from the date of death, rather than the end of the year, in which case Popeye entered the public domain on October 13th of this year.)  Popeye has already been in the public domain for twenty years in about half the rest of the world.

So where can't you use Popeye anyway you please?  Well, that depends on what you want to do with him.  An article in The Telegraph explains that Popeye is also a trademark, so you still can't use Popeye in a way that would constitute trademark infringement.  Other than that, there are at least four countries where  the copyright term extends beyond 70 years:  The US, Mexico, Colombia and Cote d'Ivoire.  Assuming Popeye is currently protected in these countries (all are members of Berne and TRIPS) Popeye will enter the public domain first in Colombia (2018), then in the US (2024; Popeye would have been in his renewal term when the terms were lengethend, giving him a total of 95 years of protection from creation; the first Popeye cartoon was published in 1929.), next in Cote d'Ivoire (2037), and finally in Mexico (2038).

Related Links
E.C. Segar (Popeye's creator).
The Sailor Man's webpage


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