Advertising consultant Jerry Fan (范可欽) yesterday announced that as a gesture of goodwill at Christmas, he would stop selling non-official Rubber Duck merchandise near Keelung Harbor from today.
Fan, who had been hired to plan, promote and handle activities related to Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck display at Keelung Harbor, was fired before the show started last week for selling two pieces of unauthorized Rubber Duck merchandise: “Merry Duck,” wearing a white-and-red scarf and a red Christmas cap, and “Fortune-attracting Duck,” with a horn on its head.
Fan said that he did not want the “bickering” to continue, because it could impact the number of visitors coming to see the display, but he insisted that he had done nothing wrong.
He had previously said that Hofman does not own the copyright for the iconic rubber yellow duck, and that the artist’s Rubber Duck was not patented in Taiwan and therefore unprotected.
Keeling City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰) in a letter made public on Monday had warned Fan and his team that the 13,000 replicas of the Hofman Rubber Duck are the only authorized merchandise.
Police have stepped up raids of illegal vendors close to the Rubber Duck site, Huang said.
“All illegal sales activities will be stamped out based on the law,” he said.
The unauthorized merchandise had earlier drawn an angry protest from the artist, who accused the Keelung show of turning his installation into a “commercial circus.”
To avoid the copyright infringement dispute, Taiwan Smart Card Corp suspended its rubber-duck-themed stored value cards, which had been authorized by Fan’s team.
“It’s regrettable” that the situation has changed, the company said, but promised to donate all the cards it has already produced to charity after the copyright dispute is settled.
The 50-day display of the Rubber Duck in Keelung marks its third stop in Taiwan. Despite some hiccups, the two previous events in Greater Kaohsiung and Taoyuan earlier this year were successful, drawing more than 5.5 million visitors.
The Keelung City Government has estimated that the installation will attract more than 6 million visitors to the port city.