In 1992, a Chinese freighter carrying nearly 30,000 Chenghai-produced rubber ducks was hit by a strong storm on its way to Washington, and the ducks poured out of broken containers. These toys that would have been bathing with the children in the bathtub also fell into the "bathtub" of the sea, which started an unknown fantasy drifting.
Among them, the "duck fleet" composed of more than 1W toy ducks arrived at the British coast collectively in 2007 after drifting at sea for 14 years. During this drifting process, some ducks were accidentally eaten by albatrosses, some ducks were swept away and became fragments; some ducks were left in the seaweed group.
This may be the earliest Internet celebrity little yellow duck. After all, the BBC specially filmed the documentary "Yellow Duck Invasion" for it.
▲ Floating little yellow duck. Image from: Le Bonbon
More than ten years later, the little yellow duck is still the most classic bathroom toy. But out of the bathroom, the little yellow duck has become an art installation and a representative of different brands, but whether users can recognize which duck it is is a difficult problem.
Yellow duck, a lot of copyright disputes
What's the name of that famous yellow duck? The one that many people like.
When my colleague asked the little yellow duck's name in a vague way, I opened the shopping app and asked him to confirm whether it was the duck he was looking for. The younger sister in the office held up the little yellow duck presented by LINLEE lemon tea; the elder brother who was playing the game "Eating Chicken" asked if it was the co-branded Bduck little yellow duck; and some people remembered the little yellow duck installation exhibited in various cities many years ago .
▲ An ordinary bathroom little yellow duck
Sadly, neither. After some searching to no avail, my colleague gave a key clue: "It's the hot duck with Pikachu."
For a while, I didn't know if Da Duck was originally called Little Yellow Duck.
But from another point of view, the Duck is very small and its skin is yellow. Its prototype is a platypus, and it really has the word "duck". So, it doesn't seem like it's a big problem to call him Little Yellow Duck?
As a member of the little yellow duck family (probably not), the Duck has the most easily recognizable shape – round head, small eyes, many whites, flat mouth, sparse three Root hair, and the most iconic head-holding action. If Da Duck is also a member of the Little Yellow Duck, it is undoubtedly a gold-sucking beast and a star member of the Little Yellow Duck family – and a strong legal team.
▲ Nintendo's little yellow duck – Da Duck.
Other members of the little yellow duck family may not be able to get on the "express train" of Pokémon, but with the cute appearance and the "national foundation" soaked in the bathtub, the IP of different little yellow duck brands also has hundreds of millions the value of.
One of them is the large yellow duck, which began to travel around the world in 2007. As a giant yellow duck artwork, the large yellow duck floating on the sea has been made in multiple styles, floating on the famous water surface in the city, and it has become an existence that people are eager to punch in. It's just that this big yellow duck is also indistinguishable, and has fallen into a lot of copyright turmoil.
During the rubber duck exhibition in Hong Kong, many Chinese merchants seized the hot spot and began to place the same inflatable rubber duck next to their stores or in scenic spots. Maybe they don't think this duck is copyrighted, they just make the common rubber duck bigger.
Because of this, large yellow ducks are very easy to see for a long time.
▲ The big yellow duck in the exhibition. Picture from: Zhihu
However, the rubber duck artist Hoffman felt that this was plagiarism. During the exhibition in Hangzhou, he did not allow the shops around West Lake to sell pirated ducks. Chinese artist Xing Xin scoffed at this claim, because Hoffman once said that his source of inspiration was a bathtub duck made in China. Isn't this a kind of duck?
The two sides continued to output and fought several rounds of war of words. In 2013, the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China issued a document, which stated that the "substance of expression" between the big yellow duck and the bathtub duck is the same, the principle of merger determines that the bathtub duck is difficult to obtain copyright protection, and the big yellow duck is less creative than the bathtub duck. Only after discussion can we confirm that the big yellow duck is not protected by copyright law.
But there is something special about the design of the big yellow duck. Its head is round, the small white dots of its eyes appear above, and the duck's mouth is not very obviously raised, but closed.
▲ Huge rhubarb duck
But to be honest, if I hadn’t written this article, I wouldn’t have recognized what was so special about Hoffman’s Rhubarb Duck. Because ordinary people are not very likely to compare the differences between different little yellow ducks.
Duck duck commercialization, making people rich and people chasing
The Duck Duck has a clear image distinction, and the Rhubarb Duck is well-known, but because the image is close to the familiar bathtub duck, few brands will deliberately authorize it. In this case, there are still two brands that broke through the siege through the little yellow duck.
▲ The little yellow duck in the game
One is Deying Holdings International Co., Ltd., which sells small yellow duck derivatives and has the B.Duck brand.
The other is the little yellow duck, which is still a special LINLEE in the new tea drink market.
Let’s talk about the first one, B.Duck’s little yellow duck is more recognizable than other little yellow duck art installations. Its head is not round like other ducks, but slightly raised, like a duck's stray feathers. The mouth is also very big. The mouth is as wide as the face is. In contrast to B.Duck's slightly raised mouth, the other little yellow ducks can be said to have small cherry mouths.
▲ The B.Duck family
This duck still has a family of its own. In addition to the little yellow duck B.Duck, there are little yellow duck sister Buffy, little yellow duck B.Duck Baby, DongDuck created for Zhou Dongyu, and black duck Bath'N Duck… Some of these ducks wear flowers on their heads, Some have toys in their hands, others have unique blushes on their faces. But as soon as you see a tuft of hair on the duck's head, you know they belong to the B.Duck family.
It's just a matter of whether there is a bunch of dumb hairs that can be protected by copyright. Deying Trading (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. once sued a Hangzhou-based company for infringing the copyright of B.Duck by creating "Walnut Duck". The walnut duckling also has a small tuft of hair on the right side of the head, and the mouth is very similar to B.Duck, except that the eyes do not have white pupils like B.Duck.
▲ Left is B.Duck, right is Walnut Duck
But this is still not an infringement. The court of first instance and second instance both held that the two ducks are only the same color. Regarding the cartoon duckling image created by two anthropomorphic techniques, the court held that the creative technique belongs to the category of ideology, and no one may monopolize it.
Although the plan to protect the copyright has failed, Deying is not at all reluctant to make money with the role of the B.Duck family. In terms of licensing revenue alone, the little yellow duck of the entire B.Duck family can earn nearly 100 million Hong Kong dollars a year; and OEM clothing, tableware, daily necessities and other commodities can also earn more than 100 million online and offline through different channels RMB.
▲The skin of B.Duck and Peace Elite
Compared with other well-known IDs, Little Yellow Duck is not so famous. But by diligently launching branded products and low licensing fees, it has also managed to break through the siege of a crowd of IPs and sell well.
In recent years, the combination of LINLEE lemon tea and little yellow duck, which has been very popular in the new tea market, is also very deep.
Although the founder has not introduced the reason why the yellow duck is given away when selling lemon tea, it is difficult for the official website and public account to find clues that the little yellow duck is bound to the brand. However, the impression of buying lemon tea to give a little yellow duck has remained in the hearts of most users. Two cups of lemon tea can get a little yellow duck, and if you collect a certain amount, you can exchange for a medium yellow duck and a large yellow duck.
It's hard to say whether users' choice of LINLEE has anything to do with their deeply bound little yellow duck, but LINLEE has played a lot of marketing with the little yellow duck. Every time it reaches the right node, the little yellow duck will also put on the corresponding clothes to "attract customers". Many Little Yellow Duck fans are attracted by the gimmicks of Little Yellow Duck's new clothes, such as swimming ring duck, Christmas duck, and glasses duck. The appearance of new ducks can always help the brand to welcome back some old users.
▲ LINLEE presents a little yellow duck hat. Picture from: Linlee public account
From the point of view of image design, LINLEE's duck is very similar to the big yellow duck that was exhibited in various countries that year. The only difference may be that LINLEE's duck eyes are in the middle, unlike the rhubarb duck's glasses that look upward. But in general, there is no obvious difference between LINLEE little yellow duck and children's bathtub companions when they take a bath. If the brand wants to rely on it to register a trademark, it will probably not work.
In 1948, Hong Kong toy industrialist Lin Liangtian made the original rubber duck toy. In those days of low copyright awareness, toy dealers sold it all over the country. In the process of exporting, the arrival of a strong storm turned this rubber duck into an Internet celebrity duck.
An ordinary bathroom toy, popular all over the world because of its cute shape and bright colors, although no brand can claim this IP without controversy. However, the huge mass base of Little Yellow Duck makes many people willing to make a second creation and get a share of it.
All kinds of little yellow ducks look slightly different, with round heads or tufts of hair; flat or open mouths; looking up or looking straight, they will all be collectively called little yellow ducks by those who like him.
The only one who still has a real name in the hearts of the public, maybe only one Duck.
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