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Wellington International Airport Ltd. has announced its intention to erect a ‘Wellywood’ sign, apeing the Hollywood original, despite a huge outcry from residents in 2010 that had initially forced it to back down from the idea.
Residents have taken to Facebook and Twitter again on news of the sign as it reached the media, with the largest Facebook group, at over 15,000 members, suddenly springing to life.
Jack Yan, co-author of Beyond Branding and a director of the Medinge Group branding think-tank in Sweden, campaigned against the sign when running for Mayor of Wellington last year. Based in Wellington, where he runs several other businesses, he has restated his opposition in 2011.
‘Wellington prides itself on its originality and creativity, and I cannot see how copying someone else expresses either,’ he says. ‘This is totally contrary to the city’s brand.
‘The Airport’s management believes that it can wear down citizens by floating the idea again. From what I have seen, the Airport has misjudged all Kiwis once more.’
He has notified the Hollywood Sign Trust and the licensing body behind the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which controls how the original Hollywood sign is used.
‘I do not believe parody is a defence in this case, as the plans shown by the Airport indicate that the copying breaches several established areas in intellectual property law,’ he says.
Mr Yan, who also holds a law degree, believes that the sign breaches numerous aspects of intellectual property law, and that he would have acted as passionately if a New Zealand firm was being ripped off.
In 2010, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce consulted its lawyers. Mr Yan says that the Chamber’s licensing body had very grave concerns after he alerted them of the plans.
The Airport’s chief executive, Steve Fitzgerald, disputes that, telling the Fairfax Press that the Chamber’s actions were only driven by opponents of the ‘Wellywood’ sign.