A woman who operates the so-called Underground Restaurant from her London home has had a surprise threat from a movie company. The host of the party, known as Ms Marmite Lover, had arranged a Halloween party with a Harry Potter theme, but Warner Bros. took exception and sent their lawyers to turn her evening into a newt.
“Since I started The Underground Restaurant in London nine months ago, pop-up or home restaurants have increased in popularity up and down the country,” wrote Ms Marmite Lover in a Guardian article in October. “My initial idea was simple: provide well-cooked food in intimate surroundings at a reasonable price, with an element of punk rebellion and a do it yourself attitude which sprung from my background in a political samba band and cooking at anti-G8 camps. I wanted to stick it to the Man.”
Now, it seems, the Man has stuck it to both her and her not-for-profit events.
Ms Lover had arranged a couple of Halloween meals to take place in her house (‘somewhere’ in Kilburn, North London) for this coming Friday and Saturday, with a seemingly-appropriate Harry Potter theme.
Rather than just sit-down-and-eat, Ms Lover had some elaborate plans for diners. Following a journey down Diagon Alley, a password would be given to the Fat Lady to gain entrance. Then how about some lovely Butterbeer along with Dumbledore’s favorite sweets, lemon sherbets and mint humbugs, and a nice starter of pumpkin soup with Witches hat pumpkin pasties?
Or would the whole thing be more creative with the addition of
Lord Voldemort lawyers from the movie industry?
In a letter addressed to Ms Marmite Lover (yes Warner, of course that’s her real name), the company’s European Legal and Business Affairs division explains that although the company is “delighted” that she is 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.”
The lawyers then asked Ms Lover to confirm that the nights were now canceled, although noting that they had no problem if she held a “generic wizard” night.
“I’ve written back, saying that I’ve changed the title of the event to Generic Wizard night,” writes Ms Lover. “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 entrepreneurial and creative.”
Do Warner own the rights. Yes. Can they do this legally? Of course. Should they? Absolutely, as long as they don’t mind coming over as petty, trivial and small minded, with a penchant for stifling creativity.