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U.S. producers sue Anne of Green Gables licensing body for right to put on musical

Producers say musical “does not infringe upon any trademark or other intellectual property rights
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The Green Gables House is seen in Cavendish, P.E.I. The producers of a musical show have filed a lawsuit in New York court claiming that their show does not infringe on Prince Edward Island’s most famous export, Anne of Green Gables. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Anne Marie Tobin

The United States-based producers of a musical about Anne of Green Gables have filed a lawsuit in New York claiming that their show does not infringe on Prince Edward Island’s most famous export.

The lawsuit filed last week in the Southern District of New York court by producers of the show alleges that the novel by L.M. Montgomery is no longer subject to copyright and is as much in the public domain as Shakespeare’s plays.

The producers say the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority — jointly owned by the province and heirs of L.M. Montgomery — sent them a demand letter asserting ownership of the trademark and asking for “Anne of Green Gables: A New Musical” to be renamed.

The lawsuit says Anne of Green Gables is in the public domain because the book was published in 1908 and should have entered the public domain in 1983, according to United States copyright law.

It says the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority is brazenly attempting to monetize and extend the life of an “expired copyright.”

The licensing authority did not immediately return a request for comment.

The producers are asking for a declaratory judgment that their musical “does not infringe upon any trademark or other intellectual property rights.”





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