Zappa family loses Zappanale court battle

German festival retains naming rights

DUSSELDORF -- Gail Zappa -- widow of U.S. rock legend Frank -- has failed in her bid to stop a German festival using her late husband's name and image.

Zappa and her family trust had launched a lawsuit against the German Frank Zappa fan club over its annual Zappanale festival, demanding the removal of a bronze sculpture of Zappa at the festival site in Bad Doberan and damages of $325,000 if the festival continues to use the Zappanale name.

But the higher court in Dusseldorf ruled Jan. 21 that festival organizers may continue to use Zappa's name and his image on the festival logo and related merchandise products such as t-shirts and baseball caps. It ruled Gail Zappa's rights were not violated and that she could not prove she uses the Zappa brand in Germany herself, finding she has had knowledge of the festival since it began in 1990. Frank Zappa died in 1993.

Several thousand Zappa fans had previously demanded the withdrawal of the lawsuit, which was launched in April 2008.

Thomas Dippel, festival speaker and head of the German Zappa fan club, welcomed the ruling.

"We have always been certain that we have the older rights," he said. "We have also patented the name of the festival with the German patent office. Gail Zappa only applied for the patent of her own rights in 2002."

The 2008 Zappanale festival had 6,800 visitors. The 2009 edition is scheduled for Aug. 12-16.
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