Tintumon, the popular SMS Hero, is the Keralite (and only Indian) equivalent of ‘Little Johnny’. A precocious 5 year old comic character with an intelligent and side-splitting take on everything under the sun, Tintumon has run into a copyright furore. Unni Koroth is one of the ‘odd brains’ of Foradian Technologies who are credited with launching the online site Tintumon.com.
Since the launch of the online site, Tintumon’s popularity has soared to a new high. Techgoss spoke to Unni Koroth from Tintumon.com.
Unni says that till the launch of Tintumon.com and the little guy’s advent into SMS jokes, Tintumon did not have the iconic status he had now. He was just the centre of the Malayali jokes of the ‘little Johnny genre’. Tintumon was not alone on the humour scene; he had his side-kick characters like Dundumol, his girl-friend, Jintappan, and Sasi his arch-enemy. Foradian chose Tintumon from among these and a phenomenon was born. The SMS media did the trick, and Tintumon shot into unprecedented popularity. “It was like a viral phenomenon after we launched Tintumon.com on November 14, 2009”. The date rightly chosen so, perhaps, it being Children’s Day, and it soon led to even joke books being published with Tintumon as hero.
The Keralite penchant for satire and self-mockery soon saw Tintumon making apt references in a social satire context too. Tintumon being an ‘open-source” character, perhaps the first in the world, certainly helped his growing popularity. His perfectly tongue-in-cheek witticisms that hit the nail right on the head travelled like lightening from mobile to mobile and Keralites were soon translating ‘Tintumonisms’ into other languages in conversations to the enjoyment of their other-state colleagues. There were even SMS offers from various service providers in Kerala, aiding the popularity wave. Tintumon has his presence on popular social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut too. Unni tells Techgoss that in the initial days they had very good offers for the website, but they didn’t sell because they wanted the character to remain in mainstream and they wanted only the credit of being the creators of the online identity of Tintumon.
It seems that there is trouble brewing now. M/s. M.C. Audios & Videos has published a Trade Mark Caution Notice in a newspaper that ‘M/s. M.C. Audios & Videos is the legal and authorized owner of the ‘Tintumon’ trademark and has the intellectual property rights over the name, logo, design, shape, and picture of “Tintumon”. Further the notice says that “M/s. M.C. Audios & Videos has filed Trademark applications in class-09, class-16, class-38 and 41 the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and that the same is under process of registration at Trademarks registry, Chennai.” While it remains strange why someone who has merely “filed” an application for registration should issue a copyright notice, Keralites will remember that Tintumon has never been privately owned, in fact, he was mentioned in popular mediums like films as far back as 2002.
Quite curiously, the BMG Business house of the cartoonist B M Gaffoor who claims to have initially introduced Tintumon has also come out with a response in the form of another public notice that reaffirms the rights of Tintumon. Foradian has posted both the notices on the Tintumon site and has had an overwhelming response from the fans of Tintumon in support of Tintumon remaining open source. They are also gearing up to meet any attempts at a private take over of Tintumon saying they will meet the take-over bid ‘through the website’ and with the whole-hearted support of Tintumon fans. Foradian has another ace up their sleeve now. They are planning to launch another website in the name of Sasi, the arch-enemy character of Tintumon under iamsasi.com and say it’s open to the world for claiming copyright.
While it is heartening to know that the little boy has so many ‘owners’, Techgoss remembers here the adage ‘Success has many fathers, failure has none’; so also with Tintumon. No one seems to want Dundumol, Jintappan or Sasi for their trademark!