Yesterday marked the sunrise launch of the .porn and .adult generic top-level domains (gTLDs), which join .xxx in the top-level domain name space as gTLDs targeted mainly at online purveyors of adult entertainment. As with .xxx, the introduction of these adult-themed gTLDs presents yet another annoyance for trademark owners already fatigued by the weekly onslaught of gTLDs introduced over the past couple of years pursuant to ICANN’s expansion of the domain name space. Also as with .xxx, brand owners have some opportunities to defensively register .adult… More
As a native Texan, I always feel a bit nostalgic and homesick around early March. Not only is bluebonnet season (read: spring) around the corner (if only that were true here in Boston!), but March 2 marks Texas Independence Day – the date on which, in 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Although the Republic of Texas lasted only ten years, its fiercely independent spirit seems to live on in the tenacity with which the Lone Star State asserts trademark rights in Texas’s unique brand. In… More
By now you’ve probably heard of Snapchat. But if you are not among its growing core base of users between 13 and 23 years of age (probably a good deal younger than you, constant reader) there’s a good chance you are not a Snapchat user. Snapchat is, as they said once upon a time, all the rage with the kids. It’s a social messaging mobile app that allows users to send photos and videos — “Snaps” — to groups of friends, which can be viewed on… More
The film that wins the Best Picture Oscar this year is certain to attract more viewers and more box office receipts than it had before receiving the award. But Best Picture winners also tend to attract more lawsuits, including intellectual property claims. Plaintiffs show up out of nowhere claiming to be the true authors of the underlying work, infringing defendants come out of the woodwork to unlawfully grab a little bit of the success for themselves, and so on. Sometimes the lawsuits are just as worthy of attention as the films… More
The Better Business Bureau announced last Thursday that it has amended its Code of Advertising to address the new and evolving ways in which advertisers reach consumers through technology. The Better Business Bureau is the administrative parent of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory bodies, including the National Advertising Division.
As advertisers market to consumers who spend more time looking at smart phones and computer screens than television screens and magazines (the traditional media of mass-market advertising), the methods of advertising have changed. The basic tenets of advertising law still apply—i.e., claims must be truthful, not misleading, and substantiated—but… More
Had enough of Taylor Swift yet? For those of you who hate to love her, you might consider Swiftamine, because she is not going anywhere anytime soon. If anything, her media foot print continues to grow. And while one expects round-the-clock coverage of the pop music megastar on E! Entertainment Television and the like, she is now showing up on the intellectual property blogs, too.
Back in October, Ms. Swift filed sixteen intent-to-use applications to register the mark THIS SICK BEAT, which, to those in the know, is a lyric… More
Fortres’ software, called “Clean Slate,” erases user changes to public computers upon reboot, thus returning the computer to its original configuration, i.e., giving it a clean slate. Fortres’ complaint against Batman is that, in the weakest installment (IMHO) of Christopher Nolan’s otherwise-awesome Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, Catwoman seeks out an elusive (entirely fictional) hacking software, also called “Clean Slate,” in order to delete her criminal record from every database… More
In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the Ninth Circuit Hana Financial v. Hana Bank and ruled that the question of “tacking” — whether a party’s prior version of its trademark is so closely similar to the current one that the prior period of use should be added, thus giving an earlier priority date — is for juries, not judges, to decide. The logic of the opinion is fairly simple: since the similarity of the prior mark is… More
The Beastie Boys can look back on 2014 as a year of good copyright outcomes. The preceding years had seen their music used without authorization in two promotional videos, by Goldieblox and Monster Energy, despite the surviving members’ commitment to honor the wishes of Adam Yauch, known as MCA, that Beastie Boys music not be used in commercial advertisements. The remaining band members, Adam Horowitz and Michael Diamond, decided to Make Some Noise about both unauthorized uses and, in 2014, saw the resulting legal disputes… More
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as the saying goes. However, things are not always as they appear, and sometimes events unfold in ways you would not anticipate. Such is the case with the Ninth Circuit decision in the matter of Omega v. Costco. The case concerns Omega’s allegations that Costco was importing watches bearing the Omega symbol, thus infringing the copyright in that design. Despite the fact that the parties on appeal briefed only one hotly contested legal issue – copyright misuse – the Ninth Circuit’s majority opinion… More
Heading into this year’s Super Bowl party season, there are two things every lawyer should be concerned about. First, why can’t your team get it together? Second, what do you do if you are asked to explain to your friends and neighbors some NFL-related litigation that you haven’t been following? We can’t help you with the first problem (although, as an Iggles fan living in the heart of Patriots Nation, I feel your pain). As to the second problem, however, we’ve got you covered, at least when it comes to… More
This has been an exciting week in Buckeye Nation – The Ohio State University’s football team won the first-ever college football national championship determined by a playoff system, defeating the Oregon Ducks 42 to 20. It has also been an exciting week for College Football Playoff (CFP), the company responsible for managing the new playoff system, in which a committee selects four teams for a two-round playoff (in contrast to the previous system, in which two teams, chosen by polls and computer algorithms, played for the title). The championship game on… More
Like claims for defamation or commercial disparagement, Lanham Act claims are viable only if they involve statements of fact, rather than opinion. But what happens if an advertising statement concerns an issue that is a matter of scientific debate? Does that make the statement an opinion, and therefore non-actionable? The answer, of course, is “it depends” — as illustrated by a recent Fifth Circuit case, and how it distinguished itself from a Second Circuit case with a different outcome.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has upheld the conviction of an Andover couple for violation of the Commonwealth’s criminal harassment statute by, among other things, posting fake ads on Craigslist. In brushing aside the couple’s challenges to the statute, the Court emphatically held that the First Amendment does not provide a defense to allegations of criminal harassment simply because the defendant uses words to carry out the harassment. The Court also rejected the defendants’ attempt to “launder their harassment . . . through the internet to escape liability.”
The case of Latele Television v. Telemundo Communications Group might have been a simple factual dispute over copyright ownership, but instead it has devolved into a series of accusations — including allegations of willful discovery violations and forgery — that could have been lifted directly from the telenovelas at issue in the case. This fascinating dispute, still ongoing in the Southern District of Florida, serves as an object lesson on the importance of thorough pre-litigation investigation, open communication among co-counsel, and candor in discovery responses.
Latele Television claims to own… More