Under pressure: protecting IP at the BBC


Under pressure: protecting IP at the BBC

The BBC is used to dealing with threats to its intellectual property. And as Diane Hamer, a trademark lawyer at the corporation, tells TB&I, those threats are on the increase.

“We're not the most aggressive brand owner in terms of protection,” says Diane Hamer, trademark attorney at the BBC. For a corporation that offers almost unparalleled online services, from its multitude of websites to its diverse range of television programmes, this may seem like a surprising stance.

“There is one example, however, which we most often cite as the pinnacle of what we find intolerable,” says Hamer. “It was something that we considered to be a grave breach of our rights.”

From 1997 to 2002, Teletubbies was a popular children’s TV programme in the UK that soon migrated to countries including the US and India. One day, BBC lawyers came across a website that incorporated the Teletubbies name but was used to display pornography. The corporation’s concerns were obvious. While the website was soon removed, it was just one of example of the many potential sources of cybersquatting and infringement that the BBC faces. Hamer says with the increasing availability of digital technology, there has been an “explosion in infringement”.

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