A Victorian company that sparked national outrage when it made moves to trademark the ‘Waltzing Matilda’ name appears to be toning down its plans.
WM Productions, the production company that has held the trademark rights to the song for use in entertainment and film since 1998, was reportedly seeking to expand its rights to prevent the name being used in merchandise and promotions.
However, it led to fears that the move would scupper plans to re-build Winton’s iconic Waltzing Matilda Centre, which burnt down earlier this year.
The mayor of the Queensland town, Butch Lenton, immediately appealed for common sense to prevail and for no trademark to be applied.
“We would like not to see it happen, because Winton is the home of Waltzing Matilda and also, Winton is the town that has promoted the song and Banjo Paterson since the ‘50s, and we’d be sad to see someone is doing this,” he said. “We’d like to be able to do what we wish with Waltzing Matilda. It is an important part of Queensland and Australia’s history.”
As concern grew, media outlets speculated about how future readings of Banjo’s most famous work might sound.
For example. “And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled; “who’ll come a-[trademark protected], with me?”
In the face of all this, WB Promotions has now said it supports the town’s efforts to “promote the fame and status of the song” and would not seek to block the rebuilding of the museum.
“WM Productions fully understands and deeply respects the iconic nature of the song Waltzing Matilda,” said Gina Boon, from WM Productions, in a statement. “It has no intention of, or desire to, prevent the fair and reasonable use of the name by Winton Shire Council, The Waltzing Matilda Centre or any party outside the scope of its trademark rights.”
The company said it was working on a Waltzing Matilda-titled film and it was “in the context of those discussions only that WM has made a further application for the trademark”.
Winton has welcomed the statement but says it is awaiting further details about the company’s trademark rights before proceeding with plan to re-build the museum.
Meanwhile, Banjo Paterson’s great-grandson, Alistair Caird-Campbell, has said he found the case ‘distressing.
“He wrote his poems for the people and general enjoyment,” Mr Caird-Campbell told the Courier-Mail newspaper.