The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

An interesting case that has somehow slipped under the radar is Mrs. Justice Crennan’s decision in Christodoulou v Disney Enterprises Inc [2005] FCA 1401 (4 Oct 2005). A Melbourne based writer and composer, who was also in the business of providing entertainment bookings, registered the sign THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME simpliciter in class 41 for ‘Entertainment services in class 41’. He sued the Disney Corporation for trade mark infringement. There was no dispute that those words had appeared as a title in Disney films, books, videos, DVDs and website. The question before the court was whether such use amounted to use in the trade mark sense.

The judge held that it did not. The words “Hunchback of Notre Dame” referred to an established title. The descriptive meaning of those words had been established long before the registration of the trade mark. The purpose and nature of the use was to describe Disney products. It was not for the purpose of indicating a relevant connection in the course of trade.


About Jane Lambert

I am a barrister specializing in intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment and competition law. I specialize in helping SME (small and medium enterprises) protect and exploit their investment in brands, design, technology and the arts. SME require intellectual property (legal protection for their intellectual assets) at least as much as big business but their limited means restrict the way they can use it. Looking after such clients wisely requires skills and knowledge which have taken me years to learn.
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4 Responses to The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

  1. Hi JohnJust so you know, Mr. Justice Crennan is Susan Crennan, and has just been appointed our newest High Court judge. Cheers

  2. John Lambert says:

    Thank you very much for putting me right. I apologize to the Judge and have already corrected the error. In England, judges of the High Court are referred to as “Mrs Justice” and I trust that is the convention in Australia. I believe that in some jurisdictions they are called “Madame Justice”. If I have the wrong designation perhaps an Australian practitioner could correct me.Finally, I have to congratulate Her Ladyship (or Her Honour if the latter is the correct form of address) upon her appointment as the youngest judge on the bench. I wish her every success and look forward to reading more of her judgments.

  3. Yep, Her Honour, but I’m not sure about the Mrs. thing. I’m pretty sure they are all just called ‘Justice’. I will have to get back to you all!!Cheers again John!

  4. Sulliman says:

    Interesting case ! i wonder what would Victor Hugo say if he had to know which kinf of dipute his hunchback is nowadays rising. M Glad HER HONOUR considered the welfare of the title, which is in France protected as such by author’s rights and has nothing in commun with the course of a trade as she corectly mentioned.CheersSulliman

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