Roger Waters, who recently performed at a concert in Germany wearing an SS uniform could be facing civil action, according to UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI).
Waters, who is currently under investigation for possible incitement by German police, may also have committed trademark abuse according to UK-based nonprofit company UKLFI, for the use of Anne Frank's name during his widely-criticized concert, which he used without the consent of the Anne Frank Foundation, which has trademarked the name.
According to the UKLFI website, “UKLFI’s chief executive Jonathan Turner has pointed out that Anne Frank Stichting registered 'Anne Frank' as a trademark inter alia in Class 41 for entertainment services in various jurisdictions.
"Roger Waters’ abuse of the mark seems liable to harm its functions and without due cause to take unfair advantage of its distinctive character and repute and/or to be detrimental to the distinctive character or repute, thereby infringing the rights of the Anne Frank Stichting," the website continued.
According to Turner, “Anne Frank Stichting and its lawyers might consider whether to protect its mark and other rights by threatening and, if necessary, bringing legal proceedings against Roger Waters and/or those organizing or hosting his concerts."
The name of the teenage Holocaust victim appeared alongside the name of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in Jenin while reporting on a gunfight between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. To this end, UKLFI alleges that by connecting the names, Waters is comparing the journalist to Anne Frank.
“Roger Waters’ display was evidently intended to suggest that Abu Akleh, like Anne Frank, was murdered by evil fascists, and that the IDF are like the Nazis (a typical example of antisemitism according to the IHRA definition),” they charge.
Good morning to every one but Roger Waters who spent the evening in Berlin (Yes Berlin) desecrating the memory of Anne Frank and the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. pic.twitter.com/lS1YzpUZzM— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) May 24, 2023
What happens if Roger Waters is taken to court for Trademark abuse?
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, Turner explained the potential consequences for Waters.
“The court could order Roger Waters not to use the name 'Anne Frank' in his future performances and to pay compensation for his use of the name to date, taking into account the profits he has made. If Roger Waters flouts a court order he could be fined or sent to jail," he says.
“Roger Water’s production team is undoubtedly liable for the infringement. It is arguable that the owner of a venue and those running it would also be liable for hosting a concert which they know will misuse Anne Frank’s name in this way.”
Regarding possible accusations of censorship should Waters be taken to court for Trademark abuse, Turner explains that "enforcing rights in the trademark Anne Frank would not prevent Roger Waters from criticizing anyone for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. It would prevent him exploiting and tarnishing the reputation of Anne Frank and the Anne Frank Foundation by coupling it with something that has nothing to do with them.
“This abuse of Anne Frank’s name is highly offensive and is liable to harm the reputation of Anne Frank and the Anne Frank Foundation," he adds.
"It associates them with Roger Waters’ crude antisemitic performance – the opposite of the precocious sensitivity of Anne Frank’s diary. And the comparison with Shireen Abu Akleh implies that Anne Frank put herself in harm’s way – when all she did was grow up as a Jewish child in Frankfurt and Amsterdam as her parents did all they could to keep her safe.
“I don’t think it makes much difference whether the concert is in Germany or anywhere else."
Roger Water’s response to antisemitism accusations
On May 11, Waters released a statement on his website, under the title ‘A NOTE FROM ROGER. HAJAR A-BAHTINI.’
Hajar Bahitini, the five-year-old daughter of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Leila Bahitini, was killed during a recent Israeli airstrike in Gaza during Operation Shield and Arrow earlier in May.
The statement, which primarily addresses accusations of antisemitism against Waters, begins "The persecution of The Palestinians must end."
"I am harassed in Germany for speaking up for my brothers and sisters in Palestine. Germany’s harassment of me is not even a gnat bite.”
“The lies in question in my case are that I am a Jew-hating anti-Semite and that I am a Putin apologist on the wrong side of the war in Ukraine, and that in consequence, in Germany at least, I should be banned from performing my work.
“I am being demonized because what I say about Palestine and Ukraine contradicts the orthodox view of Big Brother. I am being attacked for expressing opinions and exposing Big Brother’s lies," Waters continued.
“So? Who runs the Ministry of Truth in Germany? Who is Big Brother? Who gets to define the words in our dictionaries? What is and what is not Anti-Semitism?”
“I am not anti Semitic. Never have been never will be. I speak the truth about Israel/Palestine. The Israel-Palestine issue is NOT complicated. In contravention of all international law the apartheid state of Israel engages in building settlements in territory occupied by military force, territory designated by the UN for a Palestinian state, and is committed to the ethnic cleansing of the non-Jewish indigenous population.
He ended by alleging that: ”Roger Waters stands United with The Frankfurt Jewish Community, in that, he too abhors Anti-Semitism along with all other forms of racism and discrimination.”