Turner Entertainment Forces Name Change Of 'Surrender Dorothy' Beer, Which Isn't Actually Referencing Wizard Of Oz

from the surrender-indeed dept

It won’t come as a total surprise that we have covered intellectual property stories involving The Wizard of Oz in the past. Both the book and film are iconic to say the least, so it would perhaps be a bit strange if such issues didn’t arise from time to time. That being said, the relevant players here tend to be on the extreme end of the enforcement spectrum, which leads to extreme cases such as Warner Media opposing a trademark filing by a self-proclaimed “wicked witch” for some reason.

The point is that the IP holders for the film tend to see anything remotely resembling a reference to the film as infringement of some kind or another. A recent example of this is Turner Entertainment, part of Warner Media, forcing 7 Locks Brewing to change its name and branding of its beer “Surrender Dorothy.”

What was originally known as “Surrender Dorothy” is now simply called “Surrender.” The Wicked Witch won and 7 Locks had to throw in the bar towel. In this case, it was Turner Entertainment that was no friend of Surrender Dorothy. Its lawyers dropped a house on 7 Locks Brewing’s effort to trademark the name of their signature beer. (I think I may have mixed metaphors there.)

“Basically, Turner owns the rights to ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ” said Keith Beutel, co-founder of 7 Locks. “They claimed that we were using the term ‘Surrender Dorothy’ and they didn’t want any confusion with their branding.”

It wasn’t just the name. It was the design on the can, too, which featured a curvy yellow thoroughfare that the media giant insisted was too similar to the “Yellow Brick Road.”

So, “Surrender Dorothy,” a yellow road, and also on the label that road leads to a castle or palace with several large spires. I know what you’re thinking: those sure sound like references to Oz. But, no, it’s actually a reference to a famous story and prank that occurred in the DC area, where 7 Locks is located. The castle spires aren’t Oz; they’re the Mormon temple. The yellow road isn’t the yellow brick road; it’s the Beltway. And the Dorothy? Well, that was the prank I mentioned.

A refresher for anyone unfamiliar with how the beer got its name: For years starting in the 1970s, graffiti would show up on a railway bridge over the Capital Beltway just west of Georgia Avenue. As motorists drove around the Outer Loop, the Oz-like spires of the Mormon temple looming ahead, they’d see “Surrender Dorothy.” It was a bit of whimsy, refreshed whenever it was painted over by CSX, the railroad whose trains use the bridge.

I’ve never been able to find out who first daubed the bridge with that expression, but I did find their inspiration: Catholic schoolgirls who had earlier created a temporary “Surrender Dorothy” message by stuffing wadded-up newspaper in the chain-link fence of a nearby vehicle bridge.

So there’s a semblance of a reference to Dorothy from Oz, but it’s a 2nd degree reference at best. It’s not the brewery’s fault that the temple and beltway look so much like Oz that they served as this inspiration. And that’s not actually the point of 7 Locks’ label. The point is in homage to a local legend of sorts.

But, because trademark bullying works, and even though some commentators believe the brewery could prevail if it fought, the “Surrender Dorothy” branding has been, well, surrendered. But not without a bit of a middle finger on the brewery’s new label.

So the new beer is called simply Surrender. The image on the can — unveiled early in the summer — still features the Mormon temple, but the Beltway is gray, not yellow. And the graffito on the bridge over it is being painted over by a man in a hard hat. All you can see are the letters “DORO . . .”

What a great victory for Warner Media…

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Companies: 7 locks, turner entertainment, warner media

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Comments on “Turner Entertainment Forces Name Change Of 'Surrender Dorothy' Beer, Which Isn't Actually Referencing Wizard Of Oz”

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Anonymous Coward says:

You should probably do a little editing on your story. It is not a famous prank and story that occurred in Utah. It occurred outside of Washington, D.C. Montgomery County, MD to be exact. 7 Locks Brewing is located in Rockville, MD not Utah and the Washington beltway doesn’t lead to Salt Lake City, In fact, the beltway doesn’t lead anywhere. It just goes around and around and around.

I was always disappointed when CSX would paint over the Surrender Dorothy sign,

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Frank Cox (profile) says:

Wizard of Oz is public domain in the United States

The Dorothy character in the Wizard of Oz is public domain if she appears in any of the first 26 books or five films.

I’m sure that she appears in all 31 of those public domain works.


"The copyright status of The Wizard of Oz and related works is complicated for several reasons. The book series is very long-running, and written by multiple authors, so the books often fall on opposite sides of eligibility for copyright laws. There have also been multiple adaptations across many different media, which enjoy different kinds of copyright protection. The copyright law of the United States has changed many times, and impacted Oz works every time. As of 2021, twenty-six Oz books and five films are in the public domain. Starting in 2019, an Oz book has entered the public domain every year. Barring another extension of copyright terms, all of the Famous Forty will be in the public domain by 2059. "

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Wizard of Oz is public domain in the United States

"The Dorothy character in the Wizard of Oz is public domain if she appears in any of the first 26 books or five films."

Imaginary Property being the holy grail of grifting the fact that the character, the books, and most of the films are in the public domain won’t stop any stakeholder from a tort case – in the US at least.

Hell, a case like this might be as baseless as the magic of the wizard but still boil down to whether the accused party found it cheaper to defend or to change their product at the behest of some asshat with too idle lawyers.

Glenn says:

Turner itself has [mis]appropriated US history with the allegory that is the Wizard of Oz. The Emerald City is Washington, D.C. "Dorothy" derives from "d’oro" (Spanish for "of gold"). And then there are the Washington landmarks and geography. 7 Locks was really just bringing it all back home where it belongs; the beer was a local history lesson on a can.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Dorothy character in the Wizard of Oz is public domain if she appears in any of the first 26 books or five films.

I’m sure that she appears in all 31 of those public domain works.

The Baum-written books are all free in the U.S.; some of the Ruth Plummer volumes are still under copyright.

Dorothy appears in the first book, but nearly all the other Oz books (and the one Ix book) are Dorothy-free. The yellow brick road appears in the first book.

(My name is on some of the free Project Gutenberg versions of these books. You can count on the good volunteers at Distributed Proofreaders to add all the books as they enter the public domain.)

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