I was just about to post up the menu for my Harry Potter nights at The Underground Restaurant which will take place, appropriately, on Halloween when I received the following letter from Warner brothers.
63 Oct 26, 2009 at 18:45 by Noneya Bidness
98 Oct 27, 2009 at 00:26 by Mitch
104 Oct 27, 2009 at 01:32 by Iain
106 Oct 27, 2009 at 01:48 by Carface
139 Oct 28, 2009 at 23:46 by Ninja
I've written back, saying that I've changed the title of the event to Generic Wizard night. But I added that J.K. Rowling herself, having at one time been a struggling single parent, and having donated to the National Council of One Parent Families, would probably approve of a single mother being entrepeneurial and creative.
I announced it on Twitter and there were plenty of jokes:
I announced it on Twitter and there were plenty of jokes:
MsMarmitelover: Just got letter from Warner bros saying can't call my halloween dinners Harry Potter nights but Generic wizard nights
MsMarmitelover:Do I have to change the names of all the foods Icantbelieveitsnotbutterbeer?
Craftilicious @MsMarmitelover if the foods are trademarked, then probably yes, but I doubt it, it will just be the name harry potter that is tm'd
StefanChomka @MsMarmitelover 'Do I have to change the name of Icantbelieveitsnotbutterbeer?' Hell yes, or expect a Unilever/WarnerBros tag-team lawsuit
headtofoot @MsMarmitelover Why not just call it Parry Hotter nights, serve hint mumbugs,semon lherbets just turn it round a bit
katethebake @MsMarmitelover can you call them HARRY POTTER fan NIGHT instead? j write "fan" v. small. they can't knock their fans surely?!
MsMarmitelover Utterlybutterlybeer? Can I use the names lemon sherbets and mint humbugs please Warner bros? Not cauldron cakes, but lecreusetcakes
MsMarmitelover @josordoni lol that makes it sound very interesting! Le creuset cakes is the yuppie version
and on Facebook I got these replies:
J:So even if you bought WB merchandise to decorate your room, it can't be referred-to by the movie's title? Beyond imagination. But then, that's WB for you.
Nicola Swift : Harry Notter!
Myself, my daughter (an HP obsessive) and food writer Catherine Phipps (qualification: used to moderate a HP forum) have been researching and developing the menu based, as accurately as possible, on food described in the books.The evening, as it stood, consisted of:
Journey through Diagon Alley...Give the password to the Fat Lady...
On Saturday night Professor Trelawney will be reading fortunes in the shrieking shed at the bottom of the garden, cross her palm with silver...
Sorting Hat to determine which house table you will sit at:
Dumbledore's favourite sweets, lemon sherbets and mint humbugs will be scattered on the tables.
To start we will have pumpkin soup accompanied by Witches hat pumpkin pasties.
It was difficult to think of main dishes that are not meat based for Harry Potter characters seem to be mostly carnivore. The only fish mentioned are pickled eels. They do eat Shepherd's pie and therefore I thought that Fish pie would be the most likely fishy equivalent. Also it contains mashed potatoes, which, along with roast potatoes, is always on the table at meals.
The main keynote is abundance; they can eat whatever they want, pluck it out of thin air.
Harry Potter characters do not eat complex exotic food. The dishes are recognisably English for the most part except a fish bouillabaise which the French ate during the international Quidditch tournament.
Minted peas and roast potatoes will accompany the fish pie.
Fizzpop chocolate frogs, cauldron cakes
Many Potter foods are magical, transformative. How can I reproduce that? I thought of the miracle berry, a fruit from Africa that transforms sour foods into sweet foods.
I will serve miraculin powder, an extract from the miracle berry. Guests will pour the contents of the sachets into the mouth, savouring the taste.
Accompanied by a tiny sugarless tarte au citron which will taste miraculously sweet.
Goblet of fire: Schnapps with spun sugar balls £5 a glass
Butterbeer £4 a glass
Pumpkin juice £3 a glass
Dandelion wine £4 a glass
Price: £25, £20 for unemployed
Tips will be appreciated, but more than a quidditch please...
Update: Butterbeer is an old English recipe, Pumpkin pasties is a Caribbean recipe, chocolate frogs were popular before the book.
Update: The BBC, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Observer have all written stories about this. I've even been interviewed on Australian radio where they've never heard of home restaurants!
I'm also getting to know a lot more about the world of Harry Potter fans. The British one's help 'translate' the books for the Americans, explaining certain terms and the grammar'Brit picking' they call it. There are Harry Potter conferences, Harry Potter re-enacted trials, there was even an academic paper explaining why Harry Potter is "a good Jewish boy".
Update: Some very interesting comments on this link. Such as ...
Definition Of Hollywood Lawyers:
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soul-less and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
When Barnes and Nobles was selling one of the Harry Potter books they were informed that their pre-release parties could not use the name Harry Potter or images of Harry Potter.
Publicity for the very books they wanted to sell was considered copyright infringement.
The problem for companies like Warner is that if they don’t “defend their copyright” other companies can make the claim that it has become de facto “public domain.” Thus, in order to prevent some low down snake from stealing your legitimate copyright, you have to be a low down snake yourself and stomp on little people who aren’t really doing you any damage.
What they really should do is offer a “fair use” license which acknowledges the copyright. Then everyone could be kept happy and legal, but they are too busy hissing at everyone in their best snakish manner to “defend their copyright.”
There is a much better solution where everybody wins. Warner can give Ms Marmite Lover a license for a token sum ($1, for example), in exchange for her mentioning the generosity of Warner at the party or even in the press.
Ms Marmite Lover gets to have her harry potter party. Warner exercise their rights and get good publicity.
She should have just ignored the letter, as it was addressed to someone who does not legally exist.
That’s real life for you. Those places are awesome, just like Ms Marmite’s initiative.
I have to agree WB is completely right there, however there are other ways to deal with it where every1 gets happy. Don’t sue, don’t threaten, tell her about the rights and add that you encourage such parties but request the permission to offer or make HP products available at the place – HP fans will probably end buying something and everybody gets money, including the money hungry WB.
Reminds me of the UK industry telling that piracy is killing the creative process or something like. Now, would that be a case where the victim becomes the killer?
WB, learn from this. Work with your costumers, not against them.