The IPKat has read with great interest a news item, via Conservation Commons, about how researchers who helped discover a new species of Mexican butterfly are offering to sell the naming rights in order to raise money to fund more research. It is hoped that at least US$50,000 will be raised by auctioning off the rights to name the 4-inch "owl eye" butterfly, which lives in Sonora, a Mexican state bordering Arizona.
Right: the butterfly in question (male, above, and female, below)
Says the article:
"According to the scientific tradition, discoverers of a new species have the say in naming it. In recent years, some discoverers have auctioned off their naming rights to raise money.The auction, on the internet auction site Igavel.com, closes this Friday, 2 November. When this item was posted, the bidding was only up to US$6,250 -- so here's a golden opportunity for everlasting fame and gold-plated conservation credentials.
... naming rights for a new monkey species brought in US$650,000 two years ago. A group of 10 new fish species that went on the naming auction block at the same time earlier this year brought in a total of US$2 million".
Merpel says, whoa there! Things aren't so easy, especially for those of us who are intellectually proprietorily inclined. How about some answers to the following questions?
Cousin Caterpillar here (in this blogger's opinion, one of the greatest songs ever written/performed)
* What is the legal basis upon which the discoverer of a new butterfly species can sell the naming rights? Is this right exclusive and irrevocable, or can it be challenged by the subsequent disclosure that the butterfly was previously found by a third party, who also wishes to sell naming rights?
Left: the IPKat and Merpel ponder how to distinguish the little girl butterfly from the little boy butterfly ... (cyber-cats)
* Is the denomination of a butterfly a "use" of the name for the purpose of acquiring distinctiveness as a trade mark, for demonstrating genuine use of that mark or for infringing another's mark?
* Is there a register of butterfly names? Does it protect against duplication of names?
* What would happen to anyone who used the words (i) Champagne or (ii) London Olympics 2012 in the butterfly's name?
* do the naming rights confer any entitlement to the genetic make-up of the butterfly or to any chemical compounds that may be extracted from it?
* what about the caterpillar?
Caterpillar recipes here