The Intriguing World of Copyright Infringements: Unveiling the Happy Birthday Song and the Haelmlic Maneuver Name


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The Intriguing World of Copyright Infringements: Unveiling the Happy Birthday Song and the Haelmlic Maneuver Name


Copyright law is a complex and ever-evolving field, designed to protect the creative works and innovations of individuals and organizations. However, there have been instances where seemingly commonplace elements of our lives have been copyrighted, leading to some curious infringements. In this case we will explore two distinct copyright cases: the "Happy Birthday" song and the copyright on the name "Haelmlic Maneuver." These cases raise questions about the boundaries of copyright and its impact on our daily lives.

  1. The "Happy Birthday" Song
The "Happy Birthday" song is arguably one of the most recognized and frequently sung songs worldwide. Its tune is sung to celebrate the birthdays of countless individuals. However, this seemingly ubiquitous song was, until recently, a subject of copyright protection. Warner/Chappell Music claimed to hold the rights to this melody, demanding royalties for its use in various public settings.

The intriguing aspect of this case lies in the song's history. Originally composed as "Good Morning to All" in the late 19th century, the lyrics were later modified to "Happy Birthday to You." The song's ownership changed hands over the years, leading to a controversial and lengthy copyright dispute.

In 2016, a U.S. judge ruled that Warner/Chappell's copyright claim was not valid, as there was no evidence to prove the song's lyrics were under copyright. This decision led to the song entering the public domain, liberating it from the grasp of copyright and allowing it to be sung freely without legal constraints. This case highlights the importance of challenging copyright claims and the potential for cultural works to be set free for public enjoyment.

  1. The Copyright on the Name "Haelmlic Maneuver"
The Heimlich Maneuver, a lifesaving technique used to clear obstructions from a choking person's airway, is well-known worldwide. However, in an unusual turn of events, the name "Haelmlic Maneuver" was trademarked and copyrighted by its developer, Dr. Henry Heimlich, leading to a fascinating copyright infringement situation.

Dr. Heimlich held the exclusive rights to the name and, for a time, required organizations and individuals to seek permission or pay royalties for its use. This situation caused concern, as it meant that the name of a life-saving technique was restricted for commercial purposes.

In response to these concerns, some advocated for the term "abdominal thrust" to be used as a generic alternative to describe the maneuver, thus avoiding the need for copyright permissions. Over time, Dr. Heimlich's claims were disputed, and the copyright on the name eventually became less enforceable. The maneuver's name is now widely used without copyright restrictions.


The cases of the "Happy Birthday" song and the "Haelmlic Maneuver" name exemplify the fascinating and often perplexing world of copyright. These examples raise important questions about the scope and duration of copyright protection, especially when applied to elements of culture and life-saving techniques. Ultimately, the evolution of these cases reflects the balance between protecting creative works and ensuring that essential cultural elements and information remain accessible to all.