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German court rules in favor of Penny's Pippi Longstocking costume

The Federal High Court in Germany has ruled in favor of a supermarket chain which sold a Pippi Longstocking look-alike costume. The court has said the costume did not bear enough resemblance to the rebellious character.

The supermarket chain Penny did not violate copyright or competition laws with Pippi Longstocking look-alike costume advertisements, ruled Germany's Federal High Court on Thursday.

The payment claim sought by the heirs of

Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish children's author

who created the famous character, was rejected by the court. The Federal Court's decision upheld a previous ruling in 2013 from the High Court in Cologne which found that the advertisements' resemblance to the character was not strong enough to break copyright law.

A fictional character could, in principle, be protected under competition law against unfair exploitation, emphasized the Federal High Court in their decision. However, that would require a direct "imitation" of the character, which they believed was not the case.

Pippi Longstocking doing a hand stand

Pippi Longstocking's signature look includes red pigtails, mismatched socks, freckles, and a cheeky smile

In 2010, the supermarket Penny advertised the carnival costume with pictures of a five-year-old girl and a young woman who were dressed as a character the chain called "Puppi." The two appeared in catalogues, posters, and online ads wearing red wigs with pigtails, a t-shirt and stockings with red and green stripes. The chain sold over 15,000 of the costumes for a price of six euros ($6.44) for the child's costume and ten euros (10.75) for the adult version.

The plaintiff's lawyers, therefore, sought 50,000 euros ($53,592) in license fees from the chain, saying, "The costumes only sold well because everyone thought: 'This is Pippi Longstocking.'"

The presiding judge Wolfgang Buescher, however, reminded both parties of the way

Lindgren described Pippi in her books:

red hair with two braided, protruding pigtails, freckles, bulbous nose, wide mouth, short yellow dress, blue pants with white polka dots, mismatched socks, and black shoes twice as large as her feet.

"One could say that very little has been borrowed," Buescher stated in the court's opinion. "That's simply not enough for an imitation of a fictional character."

rs/jil (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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