An icy response for British firm that tried to muscle in on Knut the much-loved polar bear

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

European Court of Justice rules that copyright belongs to Berlin zoo for toys, mugs and sporting goods

Brussels

A battle between Berlin Zoo and a British company over the rights to sell everything from soft toys to sporting goods bearing the name of the late polar bear Knut ended today when the European Court of Justice ruled that copyright belonged to the zoo.

Animal-lovers mourned when Knut dropped dead of encephalitis in front of hundreds of tourists at Berlin Zoo in 2011, but he has lived on in stamps, mugs, postcards, sweets and dozens of other products which bring in millions of euros in revenue for the zoo.

When Knut first found fame in 2007, the zoo trademarked the name under the spelling "Knud". A British-registered firm, Knut IP Management Ltd, soon after tried to trademark the words "Knut - Der Eisbaer (Knut - The Polar Bear)", prompting objections from the zoo.

The court in Luxembourg found in favour of Berlin Zoo, in a ruling which said there was a "likelihood of confusion" among consumers who wanted to buy Knut products from the zoo.

Knut captured the hearts - and the wallets - of Germany in 2007, when his mother rejected him and Berlin Zoo announced they would put him down. After outcry, the zoo agreed that Knut would be hand-reared by zoo employee Thomas Dörflein, and hundreds of thousands turned up to watch the rugged keeper gambol with the cuddly beast.

His story then went global, with Knut appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair, gazing adoringly at Leonardo DiCaprio from his photo-shopped perch on an iceberg.

But Knut's star had already started to tarnish at the time of his death. Like many young prodigies, critics said he had grown up to crave attention. One keeper called him a "publicity-addicted psycho" and said he would howl with rage if he did not have a crowd of admirers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Metail Ltd: Business Development Manager for Asia Pacific

£35,000 - £40,000 based on experience : Metail Ltd: As a Business Development ...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Owner

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - £17,000 Basic, OTE Uncapped

£17000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company are looking for a S...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate