Two European organizations, both established to preserve the memory of Anne Frank, have been entangled in a legal dispute over the use of the trademark “Anne Frank” name.
The Anne Frank Fund, founded by Frank’s father, Otto, in 1966 in Basel, Switzerland, is suing the Anne Frank Foundation, claiming commercial exploitation of Anne Frank’s name.
A district judge in Zurich decided that the two parties must try to settle the suit out of court.
The Anne Frank Foundation was established in 1957 in Amsterdam in order to prevent the demolition of the house where Frank and her family hid for more than two years during the Holocaust.
Today, the house attracts about 600,000 visitors a year.
Plans are under way to renovate and expand the house, a project that could cost some $10 million. The Swiss-based fund is expected to contribute $300,000 to the project; it currently gives the foundation some $25,000 annually.
In a recent interview with the German weekly “Der Spiegel,” Vincent Frank- Steiner, who is the chairman of the Anne Frank Fund and who is not related to the family, charged the foundation with trying to profit from the Anne Frank House through the sale of T-shirts, pens, jugs and other souvenirs.
But Hans Westro, director of the foundation, denied the charges, claiming that the trademark name “Anne Frank” was registered in Holland and in Switzerland by his organization in 1984, for the precise purpose of protecting it against commercial exploitation.
The fund, which already owns the copyright to “The Diary of Anne Frank” – 25 million copies have been sold in 60 languages – and to film and theatrical productions based on the diary, wants the rights to the trademark.