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Monday, June 18, 2012

A Mr Bean misrepresentation

An Indonesian ghost movie “Mr. Bean Possessed by D.P.,” released recently, featured a Mr. Bean look-alike called William Ferguson. The producer KK Dheerj allegedly misrepresented that Rowan Atkinson was starring in it. Mr Ferguson, the lookalike has emailed the Jakarta media to say that “I spoke to them about this on several occasions . . . [my] agency also warned KK that what he was doing was misrepresentation.”  The Jakarta Police are now investigating claims that Dheerj purposely deceived audiences by allegedly implying Rowan Atkinson — TV star “Mr. Bean” — was starring in the ghost film “Mr. Bean Kesurupan D.P.” Dheerj denied the claims. “I never wrote Rowan Atkinson’s name on the poster,” he said. “I did not deceive the public.”

But Ferguson has said that the producer routinely implied that he was the real Mr. Bean. He also lied to Ferguson about his role. What exactly KK Dheerj did is unclear. He probably did not use the words Mr Bean which are a registered trademark. Whether he used photos or images of the real Mr Bean is also unclear, but that could be copyright infringement. No specific personality rights exist. Unfair competition law in Indonesia is extremely poorly developed but Mr Bean is famous enough the world over to potentially give rise to an illegal act of unfair competition. There is a criminal unfair competition offence under Article 382 bis of the Penal Code or a civil wrong under Article 1365 of the Civil Code.

Based on Article 382 Penal Code, any person who, in order to establish, to retain or to expand the sale of his trade or business or those of the trade or business of another, commits a fraudulent act of misleading the public or a certain person, shall, if therefore some loss for his competitors or competitors of the other person may arise, be guilty of unfair competition, and be punished by a maximum imprisonment of one year and four months or a maximum fine of thirteen thousand five hundred rupiahs.

Article 1365 of the Civil Code states that "Every illegitimate act, which causes damage to third parties obliges the party at fault to pay the damage caused."

But these are extremely vague and for years IP experts have complained that these are too unclear to apply to IPR situations. A conference of experts in 2004 agreed that. The IPO is having a debate whether to include specific passing off type provisions in the trademark law amendments as a consequence of the vagueness of these provisions.

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