Eggs Benedict >
To Whom it May Concern:
My firm represents Mssr. John & Jeffery Benedict, residents of Edinburgh, Scotland, who have contracted with us to preserve the intellectual property rights in association with any and all commercial sites on the World Wide Web to the use of the words “eggs Benedict”. Their rights to such usage have been firmly established through familial lineage since 1794, and have been since upheld by international courts of law, including the US Appellate Court for the 1st Circuit in New York City.
Please be advised that the Berne Convention of 1995 allows negotiation of licensing agreements as to transfer of the trademark value and copyrights to “eggs Benedict”. Mssrs. Benedict would be willing to explore this avenue of mutual interest to our parties.
We would like to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. Please contact one of our associates at the number below.
J. Willard Thomson, esq.
Chauncey, Chauncey & Winthorpe
105 Baker Street
May 23, 2002
To J. Willard Thomson, esq.:
Thank you for your letter. As the Scots have been responsible for so many remarkable inventions (adhesive postage stamps, penicillin, fax machines, tubular steel, and the breech-loading rifle), it’s not surprising to hear that eggs Benedict may have existed in Scotland over a century before its (re)discovery in New York.
Unfortunately for your clients, the Berne Convention limits the duration of copyright protection for known authors:
Article 7 (1) The term of protection granted by this Convention shall be the life of the author and fifty years after his death.
... as well as for pseudonymous works like eggs Benedict:
Article 7 (3) In the case of anonymous or pseudonymous works, the term of protection granted by this Convention shall expire fifty years after the work has been lawfully made available to the public. The countries of the Union shall not be required to protect anonymous or pseudonymous works in respect of which it is reasonable to presume that their author has been dead for fifty years.
So, unless the original Mssr. Benedict survived for 159 years after his eponymous creation of 1794, I am afraid you have no yolk to stand on.
May 24, 2002
OK, you win...this time. I will inform the Mssrs. Benedict of this rather untidy news.
May 28, 2002
P.S. You can call me "J."
The circuit court in New York is the Second Circuit. There are no reported cases mentioning "Eggs Benedict" in state or federal courts in New York, or anywhere else, for that matter. But then I was researching this extremely interesting legal proposition on Westlaw, and it only reports cases after 1799 . . .
The Messers Benedict need to dump their solicitor and spend their money trying out Eggs Benedict with the assistance of brunch.org.
Assistant United States Attorney
Southern District of Texas
May 26, 2002