My local bookshop is promoting a book called Julia, by Sandra Newman, with an eye-catching cover. It’s a novel, re-telling the story of the character Julia in George Orwell’s famous book, “1984”.
“1984” entered the public domain into 2021, since Orwell died in 1950. However, the Orwell Estate (“The Estate of the Late Sonia Brownell Orwell”) registered both the phrases “Big Brother is Watching You” and the name “Julia” as trademarks in 2021, in the UK. I think this means that you can’t use either of these phrases in your own “1984” dystopian fiction.
Inside Newman’s book “Julia” you’ll find the following legalese:
“First published in Great Britain by Granta Books in 2023
Copyright © Sandra Newman, 2023
The trademarks for JULIA and NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR are used with the permission of the Orwell Estate.”
Browsing through the UK’s Intellectual Property Office website, there are entries for the trademark “Julia” registered both by Julia Computing:
and by Sonia Orwell’s Estate:
Both are registered under Class 9 - computer software. Julia Computing also has registered classes 38 and 42; the Orwell Estate has registered classes 16 and 41.
Anyway, my fleeting interest in trademark law has now dissipated…