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Protecting The Little Prince in the public domain

An assortment of licensed merchandise at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

BOLOGNA, ITALY.  The licensing of popular literary and pop-culture characters is big business at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, with an entire hall dedicated to this facet of the industry.

In 2015, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella The Little Prince will enter the public domain, and in anticipation, Olivier d’Agay, the director of the Saint-Exupéry estate, spoke at the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair about what will be legally acceptable once the book, which has been translated into more than 250 languages, is free to publish.

For anyone thinking about producing Little Prince mugs or day-planners (65 per cent of the estate’s revenue still comes from publishing products, including ebooks and stationery), think again.

According to d’Agay, anyone will be able to print and publish the book, but the use of the title or any of the standalone illustrations will still violate copyright laws. Each of the book’s characters, including the Prince, the fox, the rose, and the Baobob planet, are protected by separate trademarks.