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Merchandise 'likely' not violating Rubber Duck rights: official
Central News Agency
2013-12-25 11:05 PM
Taipei, Dec. 25 (CNA) Two unlicensed duck-themed items resembling Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's giant Rubber Duck installation likely do not constitute copyright infringement because of their small size, a patent official said Wednesday. Wang Mei-hua, head of Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office, said the "Happy Duck" and "Fortune Duck" toys, both taken off shelves earlier in the day over copyright concerns, are fundamentally different in design from the 18-meter-tall art piece currently towering in Keelung harbor. Aside from being obviously different sizes, the office, which approved the look-alikes for sale, noted that the Happy Duck wears a Santa hat and white scarf, while the Fortune Duck has a feather sticking up from its head. Hofman's giant Rubber Duck has neither of those features. The two toys were created by Jerry Fan, former head of the Rubber Duck display in Keelung, who was replaced just before it kicked off Dec. 21. Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai, who replaced Fan as head organizer, warned earlier this week that sales of the unauthorized merchandise must stop. Fan responded with a Thursday press conference in which he argued that his company has never used Hofman's name to sell the two products. Rebutting allegations, he said that his company has never claimed the products were authorized, attributing it to "a misunderstanding on the part of Mr. Hofman and his team, and a big misunderstanding of Taiwan's efforts in the protection of intellectual property rights." Hofman's team told Taiwan's United Evening News over the weekend that it was upset with how the Rubber Duck display in Keelung had descended into a "commercial circus," leading the artist to boycott the opening ceremony for the 50-day display. Organizers have tread lightly since then, going so far as to request permission from Hofman before attempting to clean grime off the Rubber Duck using sea water after the inflatable got dirty from rain and air pollution from passing ships. A 30 minute "duck cleaning" was carried out Wednesday, though it failed to remove the noticeable layer of blackish grit caked on the duck. Organizers said they will continue to discuss a solution with Hofman. The Keelung display is the third spot that the Rubber Duck project has landed in Taiwan. Despite hiccups, two showings in Kaohsiung and Taoyuan County this year were largely successful, drawing a total of over 5.5 million visitors to the two venues. Keelung estimated that its showing, which it hopes can relieve residents in Taiwan's "least-happy city" from the stresses of urban life, will outdo previous showings by attracting more than 6 million visitors to the port city. (By Lee Hsin-Yin)
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