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Russia's Communist Party Seeks To Copyright Red Star Symbol

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Is a red star sometimes just a red star?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NATIONAL ANTHEM OF USSR")

THE RED ARMY CHOIR: (Singing in foreign language).

SIMON: The red, five-pointed star has been a symbol of Russia's Communist Party since 1917. Some accounts say the five points represent the fingers of a worker's hand, others that they're the five continents over which communism would spread. The star was sewn on all Red Army uniforms. Joseph Stalin often wore a red star. Some capitalist enterprises have also used a red star symbol, including Heineken beer, San Pellegrino water and Macy's department stores.

The chief lawyer for the Russian Communist Party has asked Russia's president to let the party copyright the red star so that Western companies can't use it. Those companies were founded and using red stars well before the Russian Revolution of 1917. Heineken says they turned their star white after World War II so that their Dutch beer wouldn't be plastered with a communist symbol. They returned to red when the USSR collapsed. Maybe the Russian Communist Party can try to copyright Mickey Mouse.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NATIONAL ANTHEM OF USSR")

THE RED ARMY CHOIR: (Singing in foreign language).

SIMON: Thanks, comrades. You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.