'Wyrd Sisters' cannot stop Harry Potter
An Ontario judge has dismissed a motion by a Winnipeg band that would have blocked the release of the new Harry Potter movie in Canada.
Winnipeg folk group the Wyrd Sisters was in court Friday asking for an injunction to block the Nov. 18 release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The group argued in court that they've owned the trademark to the name in Canada since 1990, and that release of the movie with a band purporting to have the same name will ruin their reputation.
In the J.K. Rowling book, there is a band called the "Weird Sisters," a term taken from Shakespeare. A band also appears in the movie, played by members of Radiohead and Pulp; however, references to the band's name have been removed.
That doesn't matter, argued Kimberly Townley Smith, who represents the Winnipeg group. She said the fact that people could confuse the two groups is damaging to the group's founder.
"The problem is, she's first. She has the right to use it. She's the Wyrd Sisters and now, when she goes out, people are going to think that she's them and worse, who is this person ripping off Harry Potter?"
Harry Potter-related merchandise is using the group's name and could create still more confusion, she said.
Lawsuit sought $40 million
The injunction application is part of a $40-million US lawsuit the band filed in September against Warner Brothers – the studio distributing the film – and the three famous British musicians acting in the movie: Pulp's frontman Jarvis Cocker and Radiohead's guitarist Jonny Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway.
Warner says it tried to reach a deal with the Juno-nominated group to use the name, but they were unable to come to an agreement.
Websites for Radiohead and Potter fans are calling the court case nothing more than a publicity stunt. But Wyrd Sister Kim Baryluk says it is about protecting her life's work.
"I've been getting hate mail, death threats. It's insane. This is not good publicity. I'm a happy little folk band in Canada, doing my happy little folk business. I would have far preferred never, never to have been approached by Warner. They approached me. They knew I had the trademark. They wanted it," Baryluk said.
"Just because Warner Brothers has more lawyers than Satan has sinners, and has more money than all the palaces in heaven, doesn't mean that they can come in and take over our life."
Baryluk said she would be satisfied if Warner Bros. added a line in the credits of the movie saying: the real Wyrd Sisters live in Canada.