Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lady Gaga and the trade mark gaffe

Lady GaGa
Lady Gaga has arrived in New Zealand ready for the New Zealand leg of the Born This Way Ball World tour. The singer will perform three shows at Auckland's Vector Arena on Thursday June 7, Friday June 8 and Sunday June 10.

She had to cancel her Indonesian concert. Earlier last month Jakarta police reportedly refused approval for the show after the Islamic hardliners threatened violence if Lady Gaga performed, calling her a "devil's messenger" who wears only a "bra and panties".

Her shows in New Zealand are unlikely to meet the same resistance. We're a pretty liberal bunch here. In fact I struggle to think of anything she could do to offend us. She would need to either insult the Queen or confuse us with Australia. That would be about it.

It's the controversy she caused in Thailand that is vaguely IP related. According to my friends at IP Komodo she upset Thais by tweeting about how she planned to buy a fake ROLEX watch while in Bangkok. A media frenzy followed, with Thais and foreigners arguing on both sides.

Thailand's Commerce Ministry said she is undermining its efforts to stamp out piracy. One official allegedly said that "Lady Gaga is a representative of the US and the US puts pressure on smaller countries to promote the protection of intellectual property". What is even more extraordinary is that the Thai Intellectual Property Department announced it was writing to the US Embassy in Bangkok to complain that an 'ambassador' of US culture would tweet such a thing.

Pachima Thanasanti, director-general of the department, spoke to the media about the tweet and her protest. Ms Pachima made the points that Lady Gaga is an international celebrity who greatly depends on IP law to make her living. The singer, she said, should have shown a little more thought before she tweeted that she wanted to buy a fake Rolex in Bangkok.

One commentator observed that "that is Ms Pachima's personal opinion ... what was missing from her extended remarks to the news media was any explanation of why her department submitted a letter of protest to the US embassy, and just what they expect US diplomats to do about her letter...".

Could the Thai Intellectual Property Department perhaps be reminded that the ambassador of the United States is the one they are writing to, rather than the singer they are complaining about?

Photo courtesy of author ama_lia under Creative Commons licence.

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