In addition to adding Otto Frank as an author of Anne Frank’s diary in an attempt to keep the work out of the public domain, some bright lawyer working for the Foundation has successfully filed the book title as a trademark.
The purpose of this is the same. It is to prevent the book from entering the public domain. Trademarks may be renewed for ever. The ramification of this trademark registration is that only books originated or licenses by the Anne Frank Foundation can be titled The Diary of Anne Frank or anything confusingly similar.
No doubt the foundation would argue that this is to protect her integrity as an author and to prevent others from hacking about with the content. This is surprising as apparently they now believe that her father her father Otto did sufficient reworking to be considered as a co-author.
I accept that the title of a book can be an indication of origin and is inherently distinctive. The problem I have is that this development effectively makes copyright unlimited and prevents anyone else from publishing the book unless they give it a totally different name such as the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4, Anne of Green Gables, Frankenstein or something sufficiently different from the Diary of Anne Frank®, that no one could possibly be confused.
Since this is flagrant trademark abuse, it should be banned on policy grounds. There are different ways for doing this. I think that the trademark could have been considered as generic for books having the content of the diary since the diary is in the public domain, or it could have simply been refused on the grounds of ‘ordre public’ since public policy is for books to eventually enter the public domain a set period of time from the author’s death.
It would be churlish to point out that using actuarial tools to calculate the real time worth of possible sales in 70 years after’s one death is not actually an inventive for anyone to write anything. It would be insensitive to point out that regardless of Otto’s reasons for whatever authorship contribution he actually had, Anne Frank was not writing to publish at all.
For more on the difference between names and contents, what names are called and what works of literature may be called, it is worth considering that the white knight in Lewis Carroll’s chess novel Through the Looking Glass parodies a poem by Wordsworth and anticipates Wittgenstein in a song whose name is called Haddocks’ Eyes, but whose name is The Aged Aged Man. The song itself is called Ways and Means and is A-sitting on a Gate.