Polish art society defends its ‘Oskar’

February 26, 2012, Sunday/ 10:48:00

Few would confuse the glitz of the Academy Awards with a ceremony held by a folk arts society in Poland, but Hollywood doesn’t want anyone else handing out Oscars.

So the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is demanding that Poland’s Association of Folk Artists stop giving out what it calls the “People’s Oskar.” Waldemar Majcher of the Association of Folk Artists said the dispute is the result a misunderstanding. But he also questioned Hollywood’s demand. Majcher said the “People’s Oskar,” was named after Oskar Kolberg, a 19th-century Polish ethnographer who wrote some 10,000 Polish folk songs. Still remembered and respected in Poland, Kolberg died in 1890. In its 10-year history, the “People’s Oskar” -- a metal plaque with an engraved image of Jesus -- has been awarded to individual artists, museums, folk festivals and even a bread fair. Last week, Majcher said, he received a letter from Polish lawyers representing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences protesting the use of the name “Oscar” in its Polish spelling “Oskar.” The letter from Wardynski and Partners -- which Majcher read to The Associated Press -- demands the Association of Folk Artists stop using that name and said the academy had obtained protection of the “Oscar” trademark in Poland in a law adopted in 2000. The letter said the “verbal trademark Oscar ... is inseparably associated with the Academy Awards.” “The letter gave us a scare, but we are receiving plenty of encouragement from people,” Majcher said, adding that in some ways members of his association are impressed that “such a big institution got interested in our modest project.”

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