Harry Potter and the Deathly Lawyers: Warner Bros. blocks a fan's Potter-themed dinner party
If you’re planning to host a Halloween dinner this weekend and sell tickets online, you might want to check with your lawyers first. A Harry Potter fan in the U.K. who calls herself Ms. Marmite Lover was planning to host Potter-themed dinners this Saturday and Sunday — complete with butterbeer, pumpkin pasties, and Dumbledore’s favorite sweets (mint humbugs and sherbet lemons) — until she received a cease-and-desist letter last Friday from Warner Bros. suggesting that her “proposed use of the Harry Potter properties…without our consent would amount to an infringement of Warner’s rights,” according to the London Telegraph. The biggest problem for the legal team at the studio: Ms. Marmite Lover was selling tickets online for her event, making it commercial and not charitable in nature. But as the offending hostess explained in the Guardian, “My living room holds under 30 people, this is hardly some cynical money spinning exercise – at a maximum of £25 a head I won’t make a profit, I’ll be struggling to cover the costs of the ingredients and props I’ve shelled out on, such as dry ice and miracle berries.” (A rep for Warner — which is, like Entertainment Weekly, a division of Time Warner — had no comment.)
Ms. Marmite Lover, a 40-year-old single mom who’s been running occasional “underground restaurant” events in her home since January, has since renamed this weekend’s event “Generic Wizard Night.” And now she’s struggling to come up with a new menu. Pumpkin pasties pre-date J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series, so those are still safe, but not her version of a clear Rowling invention like butterbeer.