Some of the Jeeves and Wooster stories are public domain, and Jeeves remains the archetypal butler name (even though he was technically a valet).
Does the website “Ask Jeeves” have to pay Wodehouse’s estate for use of that name for their website’s name? It’s clear he’s *the *Jeeves - the character’s a butler. If a story is public domain, can the character still be ‘trademarked’ (is that even the right legal protection a character gets?)?
Did the BBC have to pay Wodehouse’s estate to make Jeeves and Wooster?
I know there’s at least one Mickey Mouse cartoon in public domain, and pretty clearly you can’t go around making your own Mickey Mouse stories/cartoons/watches, so I’d guess a character could be protected while some stuff the character appeared in was public domain.
If Jeeves himself is public domain, could Wodehouse’s estate get him trademarked *now *? That is, once trademark expires, can it be raised from the dead(I’m not clear on, for instance, It’s a Wonderful Life - which would be copyright, not trademark, bit it used to be public domain; now it’s not)?
I guess I’m curious because Jeeves strikes me as a very valuable trademark - he’s so famous people are aware a butler is named Jeeves if they haven’t even heard of the stories.