THE WAR OF ENGLAND’S ROSE: Diana [ archive- UK ]

4 Jan

The war over England’s Rose began August 31, 1997.  Diana Princess of Wales died in France. The outpouring of grief was tremendous. She became one of the great icons of the 20th century.

The Franklin Mint, a tax advantaged veiled Delaware corporation, is suing Executors of Princess Diana’s Estate (Mrs Frances Shand Kydd and the Lady Sara McCorquodale), ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’ memorial fund and their California lawyers for $25,000,000. Headquartered in Pennsylvania, USA, the Mint has no sympathy. Diana’s mother and sister sued them first. The California Judge, ignored US celebrity law, deferring to antiquated UK trademark merits. The Mint won. Diana’s charities feared financial uncertainty.                                                                                                                                                     

British media reported the Mint’s malicious prosecution suit. Stunned from public outcry against them, Franklin Mint UK announced, Diana’s charities wouldn’t suffer, pledging them awarded court monies. The guardians of her name would pay. “The Fund falsely claiming it owned exclusive rights to Diana’s name and image.” “Diana’s estate sued the Mint …attempting to corner the market for Princess Diana collectibles.” “(Diana’s) executors falsely accused the Mint of making untrue promises of donations to charity,” “(their client) scrupulously honored its charitable commitments” including a pledge to donate proceeds from the sale of “one commemorative plate” to Diana’s charities. Commercial investigator Tim Dabin had advised The Mint, ‘Since her death, it is obvious Diana Memorabilia had become a massive industry.’ Ten years, over 2,000,000 unlicensed Diana Memorabilia items, plates, earrings, dolls and rings, not one designer sued the Mint for reproducing their Diana copyrighted designs.

2002, they sued Paul Burrell, Diana’s Butler, for Diana’s belongings. McCorquodale and Shand Kydd lost that suit, too.

 Considerations existed to sue the Franklin Mint, doing business in the UK; soliciting British consumers with doorstep direct mail campaigns; providing UK 800 numbers reaching The Franklin Mint’s India call center; directing customers return purchases go to their Crawley location, by Royal Mail or Parcel Post. Delinquent account holders are told ‘don’t call the Mint.’ ‘Deal directly with collection agencies they employ,  including Stratford-On-Avon’s, IJL, Interim Justicia Ltd.’ An Internet retailer selling into England, the Executrices might have launched suit in the UK, under virtual global economy litigation law . Rather, ‘The Diana Princess of Wales Fund, Limited’ sued the collectible company, in Los Angeles Superior Court. Seeking greater donation.  

September 4, 1997, five days after Diana’s tragic death, war on commerce began. Executrices judgment musn’t be clouded by personal prejudice. Two people Diana trusted as executors, her mom and sister, filed for trademark ‘Diana, Princess of Wales.’ Overwhelming charitable acknowledgments were deposited in their newly formed ‘Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Requests flooded offering contributions for rights to reproduce Diana’s name or image.

December, 1997, British High Court granted McCorquodale and Shand Kydd, flexibility to create a trust over discretionary property rights to license those rights and rights to third parties. Effectively, after her death, her Will changed.

Diana knew her exclusive right to sell her name. Abhorring press and commercialism, she worked to insure commercial sponsors couldn’t profit from her title. HRH, Princess of Wales’s name supported over 100 charities. After divorcing Charles, her new name, Princess of Wales, supported 6 favoured charities. The British Lung Foundation was allowed to fundraise with a rose named for her. That was April, 1997. Five months later she was dead.

Diana’s executors made applications, over two years, to register Diana related trademarks, so consumers wouldn’t be misled into buying products not benefiting their Memorial Fund. Right Hn Richard John Carew, Shand Kydd and McCorcquodale applied, first, two Classes. Shand Kydd and McCorquodale applied on their own, March 18, 1998, for 6 classes. Later that day, they applied again, to register Diana’s signature in 19 classes. 

The Franklin Mint still sold Diana collectible items after Shand Kydd and McCorquodale made their first trademark application, 1998. Without Trademark office approval, the Executrices sued the Franklin Mint. March 29, 1999, Shand Kydd and McCorquodale, applied to register the words ‘Diana, Princess of Wales.’

March 9, 2000 Shand Kydd, McCorquodale were called before Registrar for the Intellectual Property Comptroller, Allan James. Their trademark applications? Denied! Their Fund was approving Diana’s memory for fundraising. Diana had no established use of their trademark ‘Diana Princess of Wales’ in respect to goods or services they listed. No property rights passed to her Estate No trade connection, no basis for Trademark status existed between goods/services and the Princess. All she owned, when she

died, was goodwill her name lent to charitable services. The Judge doubted this could have reversed itself 18 months, after her death, when McCorquodale’s and Shand Kydd’s application was filed.

 

Diana produced ‘the British heir and the spare.’ She manufactured nothing. She was famous because she married Charles. Fame cannot be protected in the UK. Personality rights can’t be protected. UK’s long standing trade of unlicensed cheap souvenirs bearing Royals’ likeness shows consumers don’t care who manufactures the teacup, spoon or commemorative plate, They only want Diana.

 

Elvis Presley Enterprises failed trademarking ‘Elvis’ in Britain before Diana’s executrice’s applications. The UK Trademark Office ruled Elvis Presley Enterprises could only complain if a likeness they owned was infringed. Still, Diana’s executors’ executors proceeded with litigation. Diana was only a Princess. Elvis was King.

Beverly Hills, 90212, solicitor, Roger Richman, campaigned the Spencer’s for Diana to become his client. They turned him down. Roger Richman is unique. His clients are dead. Richman markets Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Freud, Einstein, The Wright Brothers, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe personality rights, litigating unauthorized usage of his legendary clients. ‘These people have established such a unique impact during their lifetime, their reputation lives on in the public mind. That is what I am here to protect.’ Einstein’s earnings help Israel’s Hebrew University; John Wayne’s established the John Wayne Cancer Institute, Freud’s money supports family in London.

Richman co-authored California’s landmark Celebrity Rights Act legislation, prohibiting unauthorized use of celebrity voice, name, signature, photo or likeness without heirs’ permission. Richman says ‘I have been trying for more than twenty years to introduce a law in Britain that would preserve and protect cherished images of British citizens, “you”, a law that would inject decency into commerce so people could not exploit beloved celebrities any way they want. I had tremendous opposition. British sentiment is celebrities make so much money when they are alive, it is free for all, after they die.’ ‘Hopefully, now, due to coarseness of opposition, Parliament will become sensitive to personalities they hold so dear. Maybe, they will create a new legal decision to protect the next Diana.’ ‘Now, maybe the British Parliament will see the horror of Diana’s adverse decision will affect Prince William and Prince Harry that affects estates of other British treasures like Winston Churchill.’ ‘The Trademark Act of 1994 was supposed to cover everything, assure travesties like this incident with the Franklin Mint would not happen.’ ‘I would be pleased to fly at my own expense to provide guidance for such landmark law in the UK.’  

Richman estimates royalties the Spencer’s lose in the United States are staggering ‘The donations to her charities are nothing.’ Richman notes, ‘Most of the product made bearing her image is tacky, too.’ Richman knows the Franklin Mint, too well. He licensed Marilyn Monroe’s likeness to them. 

The Franklin Mint was started, in 1964, by an advertising executive, selling a half dollar minted in memory of John F Kennedy, former president of the United States. The Mint expanded to manufacturing collectors plates. Rolls Empire’s Lynda and Stewart Resnicks, the largest privately held company in the world, own the Franklin Mint, today, marketing, through mass market magazines- TV Guide, the National Enquirer millions, ‘museum quality’ faux ‘limited edition’ collectibles. In a court battle, the Mint was forced to admit, their edition ends when the mold wears out. That can take years.

Tiger Woods sued the Franklin Mint. They released “Tiger Woods Eyewitness Commemorative Medal” celebrating his 1996 Masters win. Woods solicitors lawsuit described ‘low end merchandise of the type which Tiger Woods does not wish to associate himself with.” Franklin Mint argued Freedom of the Press protections, for their commemorative medallions claiming ‘it had a right to report events and Woods happened to win.’ The judge agreed. The merchandise was inferior to Wood’s reputation. The Mint lost, paying Woods a substantial settlement.

The Franklin Mint pays royalties on over $750 million generated annually by Official Licenses including Harley Davidson, Star Trek, Frank Sinatra’s estate, MGM’s Gone With The Wind, Faberge, Colt Remington, Jackie Kennedy and her Oleg Cassini, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Elvis, Lord of The Rings. The Mint pays no royalties for Diana product they sell in America or over the Internet. 

British Charity Commission laws requires Trustees exercise degree of care a prudent business person uses in their own affairs, to manage a charity.                                                                                                                                  

If found to have acted lawfully,  liabilities the Executrices incurred suing the Franklin Mint will be met from charity resources. Otherwise, they may be responsible for their actions, making good the losses. One can only hope.

 

 

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