Halloween is a time for us to don a different persona to express our creative side or simply for a bit of fun. People of all ages pick costumes to transform into characters, creatures, or inanimate objects. Whether it’s dressing up as a superhero, a classic movie character, or a spooky monster, costumes play a significant role in the festivities. But not all costumes are created equal, and every year there are numerous different knock-off costumes that mimic popular culture icons.
Knock-off costumes are costumes that closely mimic the appearance of well-known characters but are not produced or licensed by the copyright owners or trademark holders. These costumes often imitate the exact look, design, and features of popular characters without permission.
Which leads us to this year’s Guess the Inspiration. Each of these will test your powers of observation and knowledge of popular culture.
To start it off, who is this groovy international man of mystery? Yeah baby.
No Halloween would be complete without a deluxe evil madame with a non-cat fur coat:
For those of you who love your tots (tater tots) we have a dynamite costume for consideration:
This next one threw me for a loop when I was told it was a culture reference, as it looks like standard gear for fixing toilets to me:
These are just some of the myriad of different knock-offs available this Halloween season. Knock-off costumes are difficult for legitimate rights owners to police. Under US law, costumes are not are generally protected by copyrights except in very limited circumstances. Purveyors of knock-off costumes are also careful to avoid using recognized trademarks in connection with the sale of the knock-offs, making it unlikely the buyer was confused by the purchase.
The examples shown above illustrate this difficulty faced by owners of iconic characters. Each of the costumes and associated packaging exemplified above is careful not to use the trademarks associated with the represented culture icons. Additionally, the knock-offs are composed of elements that are not protectible under copyright law. This allows these knock-offs to be sold without infringing any legal rights. The result is that Halloween is rife with knock-offs that seem to increase every year.