Ms. Marmite Lover (how's that for an improbable name?) owns and operates The Underground Restaurant from her home in London. She had planned on hosting a Harry Potter-themed Halloween party complete with a journey down Diagon Alley, a password given by attendees to the Fat Lady to gain entrance and a meal befitting any Hogwart's witch or wizard (butterbeer included).
But all of that came to an abrupt end when she received a note from Warner Brothers' lawyers claiming she was infringing on their rights.
According to The Guardian, Warner Brothers warned her that they own all things Harry Potter, including "name, stylised logo, the name of the characters, themes, incidents and other associated indicia from the series of ... books and films." The letter Ms. Lover received stated:
"Dear Ms Marmite Lover. While we are delighted you are such a fan of the Harry Potter series, unfortunately your proposed use of the Harry Potter properties ... without our consent would amount to an infringement of Warner's rights."Ms. Lover responded: "I understand that you need to protect the rights but this is two dinners, one-offs, from which I am not making a profit, inspired by the books and the mentions of food in them. My daughter is a huge fan, even an obsessive."
She has since renamed the evening "Generic Wizard Night," a recommendation from Warner Brothers.
Previously Ms. Lover hosted an evening at The Underground Restaurant whose theme centered around another corporate/trademarked product, Marmite, (coinciding with her own name). Every dish included Marmite. How did Unilever Bestfoods UK Ltd., owners of Marmite, respond? Did they send ninja-lawyers armed with cease-and-desist notices? No. They were pleased. So much so that the company provided her with a stockpile of Marmite. For free.
Warner Brothers is certainly within their legal rights, but they could learn a thing or two about having fun and fandom from the makers of Marmite.