Stories from GG’s Toy Box
By Grahame Grassby
Story 3 — Knitting Grannies
The problem of counterfeit Bananas in Pyjamas products first arose when the ABC’s t-shirt licensee Acme Trading reported that knock-off Bananas in Pyjamas t-shirts were starting to turn up in markets around the country, then we began receiving reports of unlicensed costumes being rented out in fancy dress stores, then it was cakes and cake toppers in cake shops, and finally it was knitted Banana in Pyjamas toys appearing for sale in toy stores — the piracy of Bananas in Pyjamas in Australia was starting to become a problem and ABC Licensing was tasked to put a stop to it.
As the head of ABC Licensing at the time, I asked for help from the ABC legal department and between us we devised a 3-step plan to try to combat the infringement of the ABC’s copyright in Bananas in Pyjamas in order to protect both the brand and also the rights of the companies licensed by the ABC to create, manufacture and sell official Bananas in Pyjamas merchandise.
The first step was to identify any parties breaching the ABC’s copyright by the selling of unlicensed products and these people were sent a polite cease & desist letter which gave offending parties 30 days to stop their pirating activities and to sign an undertaking not to breach the ABC’s copyright in the future.
This letter was generally pretty successful in stopping trade mark offenders but in those instances where this failed to stop persons selling unlicensed Bananas in Pyjamas products, they were sent a follow-up not so polite cease and desist letter which advised that the ABC would be considering taking appropriate legal action against the offending party if they continued to sell unlicensed products.
And the third and final step was initiated for any party still selling unlicensed Bananas in Pyjamas products after two warnings which was to provide the details of the offending parties to the police and let the police do what they do — charge them, arrest them, take them to court and fine them for their illegal activities.
And this is when we came across, in my opinion, the most-evil doers of them all — the knitting grannies.
Quietly hidden away behind closed doors, the knitting grannies would be knitting, day and night, soft toy after soft toy, feeding the insatiable black market for Bananas in Pyjamas knitted toys.
These knitting grannies were salting away a small fortune in ill-gotten gains all the while pretending to be innocent sweet old ladies.
I became obsessed with putting a stop to the knitting grannies — it was a war of me versus the knitting grannie army but, other than having my trusty assistant Fatin at my side, I was very much alone in my fight to stop them.
Every time I tried to emphasize the seriousness of the scourge of the knitting grannies, I was howled down by my colleagues telling me to leave the nice old ladies alone and to let them knit their toys in peace.
Rather than help my noble cause against these pirates, the ABC made the problem worse when ABC TV Publicity in its wisdom provided an actual knitting pattern for a Banana in Pyjamas knitted toy to Australia’s largest selling magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly, to help promote the launch of the second Bananas in Pyjamas TV series.
And this was then compounded when ABC Books published the ABC for Kids Book of Knitted Toys which contained a pattern to knit a Banana in Pyjamas soft toy and of course this turned out to be a best seller.
It went from bad to worse for me when finally, horror of horrors, ABC Radio one morning at their Ultimo studios in Sydney conducted the first “ABC knit-in” during Margaret Throsby’s radio program whereby hundreds of knitting grannies were invited down to the ABC to ply their evil trade live on radio.
I appealed to the ABC’s Head of Legal that the knitting grannies must be stopped but she patiently explained to me that the ABC didn’t prosecute grandmothers knitting toys for their grandchildren and that the police were unlikely to be seen to be carting grannies off to jail any time soon just for knitting soft toys.
I was beaten — the knitting grannies had won — I’d managed to stop the t-shirt pirates, the cake makers, the costume hirers but I couldn’t do anything to stop the knitting grannies.
So knit on Grannies, knit on and may you knit in hell.
— Grahame Grassby