Marmite (for those who do not know it) is a yeast-based condiment which, in the UK at least, is frequently used as a spread for toast or sandwiches. The advertising slogan, ‘Marmite: You either love it or hate it’ encapsulates the strongly differentiated responses which its unique taste provokes.
For the 2010 UK general election, Marmite's proprietors, Unilever, ran a fictitious televised election campaign of their own, between imaginary ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ parties. Perhaps in response to this, or perhaps in retaliation for being identified with the Hate Party, the British National Party apparently formed the intention of transmitting a party election broadcast in which the party leader, Nick Griffin, would have addressed his audience with a large image of a jar of Marmite floating above his right shoulder. Unilever objected, and an interim injunction was ordered to prevent the broadcast being transmitted in this form.
This article comments upon the decision by which Arnold J banned the BNP from using the name and imagery of this popular, but controversial, food condiment; and its legal basis in terms of trade mark infringement, copyright infringement, and passing-off. It concludes by briefly comparing the legal protection accorded to a branded decoction of brewers' dregs to that claimed, with considerably less success, for other ‘intellectual properties’, living and dead, whose owners had cause to complain that their names, words, or images were appropriated for political purposes in the course of the 2010 General Election.As a goodwill gesture, this splendidly researched and beautifully executed piece is freely available to everyone who visits this site. You can access it in html and pdf formats. Enjoy!