Melbourne pub ordered to tear down Harry Potter installation after legal threat

An Australian pub has found itself on the losing side of a battle with transnational corporation Warner Bros for using Harry Potter intellectual property without permission.

 The Imperial Hotel in Melbourne has been ordered tear down its rooftop Harry Potter installation and turn off the taps on its Buttah Beer after the multinational demanded the pub remove all wizard-themed decorations and references.

The pub – on the corner of Bourke and Spring streets, a few doors down from the Princess Theatre where the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play runs eight times a week – featured six "magical stores" adorned with spell books, almanacs and colours from the film series.

The "Vertic Alley" – a reference to Harry Potter's Diagon Alley – was set up in February with a wizard-themed menu featuring Buttah Beer and "Harry's platter".

A Warner Bros spokeswoman said The Imperial never requested permission to associate itself with the Harry Potter brand and had been told to tear down its installation.

"Anything that is themed Harry Potter must have a legal contract with Warner Bros to ensure that Harry Potter intellectual property is managed correctly, and all above board," said Warner Bros Australia senior marketing manager Stephanie Demajo.

"They went all themselves, without contacting Warner Bros in advance."

The pub's rooftop was closed on Monday and Tuesday "to install a winter warming jacket", according to signage.

But an Imperial management email to staff last week said "we will have a temporary gap with the HP activation due to a wrestling match with Warner Bros".

When asked whether they should have requested permission for the installation, Australian Venue Co, which owns The Imperial, said "we are going to stick with no comment".

Several references to Harry Potter remain inside the pub, including slogans on the staircase that read "I solemnly swear I'm up to no good" – one of Harry's lines from the Prisoner of Azkaban.

A sign outside the pub states "this is where the magic happens", while Vertic Alley and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child theatre dining packages continue to be advertised in the pub, on The Imperial website and on their social media accounts.