Most businesses are not creating and selling creative works, but that doesn’t mean the public domain isn’t useful. Businesses that sell cleaning products can still use the creative properties available in the public domain. 

Consider these popular cereal brands: Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry. Food brands don’t meet the definition of creative works. Yet, they have created several products, bringing in millions of dollars off the back of IPs in the public domain in the United States.

These cereal brand mascots are based on Dracula, Frankenstein, and horror actor Peter Loore – all IP which is a part of the public domain. Anyone can use them, and General Mills Inc. used them to create a product that would not need a copyright. If they can do it, you can too.

Look at popular public domain IPs others are using to understand how you can use these IPs yourself. The intellectual property attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett can help.

4 Popular Public Intellectual Properties Other Businesses Are Using

These intellectual properties are used across multiple industries because anyone can use them. Understand that you can’t use modern adaptations of public domain IPs. You have to adapt the source material. The source material does not make new content public domain.

1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

We already mentioned the cereal brand, but that’s not the only time this horror novel has been adapted. You have public events like the Whitby Gothic Weekend and Royal National Lifeboard Institution’s Dracula Drop, the latter of which is an annual bungee jump event.

In the United Kingdom, Poundland stores will use Dracula’s voice for its self-service checkout machines for their Halloween promotions. Your options when using these different public-domain IPs are endless.

2. King Arthur

The legends of King Arthur are treated similarly to other mythologies are treated. Some people consider these tales true, but copyright law treats them as stories available for public use and adaptation.

Aside from movie and film adaptations, King Arthur Baking Company sells pancake and waffle mix, among other cooking ingredients. They even have a crown as their logo because this public domain property boosts their brand. While we’re not pundits of King Arthur, breakfast is not what we would have thought of when someone said, ‘King Arthur.’ Yet, the King Arthur Baking Company is a successful business nonetheless.

3. Sherlock Holmes

This famous detective has been adapted a million times across books, movies, television, and more. One of the activities the titular character is known for aside from solving mysteries, is smoking, specifically from a pipe.

Fashion Pipes is a brand of tobacco pipes that uses an assortment of characters and properties in the design of their tobacco pipes. Sherlock Holmes and his partner, John H. Watson, are two of them. 

In this case, the property could have even inspired the business’s product, or been one part of their catalog. You can use the public domain with your own business in a similar way.

4. Peter Pan

This classic Disney film was a huge part of many childhoods. What many don’t realize is just how much of the novel was directly adapted into the film. Today, there is a collection of products available, from drink glasses, signs, vinyl decor, jewelry, and more, when you type “Peter Pan” into Amazon.

This is possible because many of the aspects of Peter Pan that we are familiar with are a part of the original story in the public domain. There are quotes that you remember from the film that are directly lifted from the novel that you can use in/on your products.

Contact the Intellectual Property Attorneys at ETB Law to Learn More

Your business can use plenty of public domain IPs for brand recognition. With creative works being added to the public domain every year, the IPs you can use only grow.

If you’re unsure of the legality of certain IPs in the public domain, the copyright and intellectual property attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett can help. We have extensive experience with copyright law and how it intersects with trademarks and patents. With our help, you can find financial success without violating a copyright owner’s intellectual property. Contact us today to learn more.



We provide complete intellectual property representation to business owners, inventors and artists in all matters related to the establishment and protection of domestic and international patents, trademarks and copyrights. Attorneys at our firm also serve as in-house IP counsel for companies whose needs do not call for a full-time internal position.






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