‘Harry Potter’ class lands UNH in hot water with Warner Bros.
In September, the company sent a cease and desist letter to the university requesting that it stop using trademarks Warner Bros. felt were infringing upon the company’s rights.
Michelle Gluck, special counsel for the University System of New Hampshire, said the two sides were able to reach a resolution without any formal proceedings, and the university is planning to offer the course again this summer.
“We do not believe there will be any further interaction with Warner Bros. over the course,” Gluck said.
“Otherwise you would never be able to teach a living author,” Gluck said.
But Warner Bros. holds most of the rights to the trademarks associated with Harry Potter, including things that Gluck said the university did not feel were unique to the book, including titling one class “Potions.”
To use the “Harry Potter” trademarks or properties for any kind of entertainment purpose or for goods to be sold a license is required.
She said Warner Bros. expressed concern that the design of the courses could create confusion, which is what the trademark law was designed to prevent.
“They thought the consumer could confuse the course with something being offered by Warner Bros. … that is not our position,” Gluck said.
Gluck said it is unusual for the university to receive such an order.
“Most of the things that adult students study don’t have the same cache as children’s literature,” Gluck said.
“Warner Bros. has a reputation of being very active in trying to protect the “Harry Potter” trademarks to the point of shutting down things that really don’t reflect on it all, but that is the path they have chosen to take,” Gluck said.