Popeye copyright set to expire in Europe

Dec. 30, 2008 at 9:04 AM

LONDON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The copyright on the iconic character Popeye the Sailor is set to expire in Europe this week, 70 years after the death of its U.S. creator, Elzie Segar.

The Times of London said that, as of Thursday, the character will fall into the public domain under European Union law, meaning anyone in Europe can use it without paying royalties or seeking permission. Although Europe honors a copyright for 70 years after an artist's death, U.S. law protects one for 95 years after the initial copyright, so the Popeye character is to be protected in America until 2024.

Popeye has appeared in comic books, cartoons, games and movies, and on merchandise since he was first introduced in 1929 and generates about $2.2 billion in annual sales, The Times said.

"Popeye is one of the first of the famous 20th century cartoon characters to fall out of copyright," Mark Owen, an intellectual property specialist at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis, told the newspaper. "Betty Boop and ultimately Mickey Mouse will follow."

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
Cindy Crawford stuns in bikini, no makeup at 49
10 celebrity flings that started on set
Cate Blanchett slams social media
Reports: Nick Gordon may face criminal charges linked to Bobbi Kristina Brown's death
ABC Family to be renamed Freeform as of January