The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trading on another's success: Mr. Bean.

I noticed something surprising to me, yesterday. In Redhill, there is a shop selling soy milk products entitled: Mr. Bean. That should seem familiar to all who read this, but not because of this shop's success, but because of the origin of the name.

Is it right for a shop to name itself after an internationally recognized comic brand? Everyone the world over knows Mr. Bean: he is a character of universal fame, created by Rowan Atkinson. Yet, here, in sleepy Redhill, we have a shop boasting the same name. Curiously, they have a registered trademark symbol attached to the word Mr. Bean. So, if true, they have successfully registered someone else's name as their own. I puzzle at this. Did no-one in the trademarks and registry office notice that the name was the same as a famous, already existing one?

It gives a poor impression of Singapore's respect for copyrights and foreign trademarks, if a famous comic character can have its name stolen, locally, like this, with the official approval of the trademarks office. It gives the impression that, locally, any theft of identity and goodwill will be allowed, if only the right registry fees are paid.

Mr. Bean, to billions of people, is not a soy bean shop. Mr. Bean is a comic character. Yet, in using his name, the shop has won instant familiarity. Anyone seeing it will instantly feel that it is a familiar brand. They have, in effect, polejumped their way to being a household word, by stealing someone else's household word.

A more carefully regulated environment would not allow such an act of imitation. A more careful registry of trademarks office would have turned them down, for the very reason that they are obviously trading on someone else's name and reputation.

I wonder what the owners of Mr. Bean, the comic franchise would do if they learnt that a Singaporean company has taken their identity? Would they sue? Would the Mr. Bean shop go down burdened by massive legal costs? In a way, I would be happy to see it be so - for there is nothing worse, for a creator, than to see their creation used and abused by others.

I saw the Mr. Bean shop and I was thirsty - but I didn't go in for a drink. All I thought was: "That is so wrong." I rather hope that that is the thought of the majority and that they take a step back and consider what it means for a company to build its reputation on the fame of another. Does that seem a right thing to do?

Every time someone starts a company, it is an opportunity to be creative, to do something new - to build something that wasn't there before. This particular company, however, took the opportunity to capitalize on someone else's success, to build their brand by cannibalizing another. That, in some countries, would be seen as a crime of sorts. The question is: why is it not in Singapore, the squeakiest clean state of all?

Perhaps someone should ask them to change their name. Try something honest - virtually anything else will do. If they do so, I might even have a drink there - but I won't until the day they are not called Mr. Bean.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and four months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and nine months, and Tiarnan, twenty-six months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind, niño, gênio criança, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:20 PM 


Anonymous shoestring said...

They probably wanted to use Mr Soy, but it sounds like Mr Unfortunate in cantonese. Bad for business.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for that thought Shoestring...

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my limited knowledge of IP laws, a trademark infringement only happens when the party in question attempts to use a name/logo etc. to confuse the public that the product/service they are offering is that of another well-known brand.

There is no debatable grounds for trademark infringement if the service/product offered varies significantly as compared to a former brand/trademark, as in this case whereas one is a comic character and the other selling soy products.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I don't know whether what you say is true or not. However, my point remains: the global branding of the comic character makes the soy shop seem familiar.

I note that you arrived with a search of "Mr bean franchise singapore..." what connection do you have to the shop chain?


1:50 PM  

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