We recently hosted an event at the firm where we discussed legal issues concerning parallel imports in the transportation industry, so a recent decision by the U.S. Court of International Trade discussing “Lever Rule” protection caught my attention. To those who do not traffic in the world of parallel imports, the Lever Rule is a tool available to trademark owners to limit unauthorized imports of gray market goods bearing the owner’s mark. … More
In celebration of the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s Annual Meeting, currently underway in San Francisco, we offer a brief tour through some GOLDEN GATE-themed trademarks. As a prominent feature of San Francisco’s geography, even before the iconic bridge was built, the Golden Gate is a popular theme in trademarks for local goods, both in word and image form. For fun and focus, we have chosen to highlight GOLDEN GATE trademarks for alcoholic beverages.… More
Last November, we wrote about the Copyright Office’s decision to ditch its paper registration system for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) safe harbor and start a new online system completely from scratch. If you have had other things on your mind since November 2016, we completely understand. However, if you run a website that hosts user content, copyright law will not understand (and you will lose DMCA safe harbor protection) unless you re-register under the new system before the end of December 2017. … More
This summer, I was lucky enough to vacation with family and friends in Venice, Italy. Highlights included seeing the traditional city sights, riding around the canals in a gondola, seeing glass being blown on the Island of Murano, and eating wonderful food. Lowlights included knocking down a stop sign with our rental car (my brother’s driving skills have sadly not improved over the years) and getting eaten alive by bugs (a theme that runs through all of my summer vacations). … More
If you are a television news producer or documentary filmmaker, you have almost certainly faced this issue: You are putting together a story about a past event, and you want to make the point that this past event was once the subject of media coverage. The easiest way to do that is to show some of that media coverage, for example, by including a short clip from the evening news or by panning across a newspaper article headline.… More
What if people thought you said that “slavery wasn’t so bad?” Would it harm your reputation? Would it matter if the statement was contextualized with various caveats? According to the Fifth Circuit’s August 15, 2017 opinion in Block v. Tanenhaus, context is everything. The plaintiff, Walter Block, admits that he uttered the words: “slavery wasn’t so bad” while discussing the concept of “free association,” but argues that the New York Times took these words so badly out of context as to libel him.… More
Spain is famous for wines bathed in the sun. There are various splendid Spanish wine regions: Rioja, Valencia, Penedès, Priorat, Rueda — all of which would, by the way, make fantastic places to go during your holidays if you are still looking for a summer destination.
If you are going to file a copyright infringement complaint based on a cookbook, beware. Copyrights in cookbooks are considered “thinner” than copyrights in many other types of literary works. There are several reasons for this, including:
Over a decade ago, a lawyer snapped a photograph of the Indianapolis skyline, thus opening the gates to perhaps the most prolific flood of copyright litigation in the history of Indiana. Over the last five years or so, this image has been the basis for dozens of copyright infringement lawsuits against scads of defendants. However, on July 18, 2017, Southern District of Indiana Judge Richard Young cast doubt on whether the plaintiff in all those copyright cases actually ever owned the copyright in the first place.… More
I have often called my friend and colleague, Dave Kluft, the master of opposition research. When we have a trademark case together, he can be counted upon to think deeply about our adversaries, see the world through their eyes, and uncover every small detail about them that could possibly be relevant to our case. Most of us mere mortals, however, limit our investigations to working hours and use traditional methods. … More
National Tequila Day is celebrated on Monday, July 24. Tequila is made with the distilled extract of the blue agave plant, which grows in and around the city of Tequila and other parts of the state of Jalisco, Mexico. Although agave has been used for the manufacture of fermented beverages since pre-Columbian times, the ancestor of what we now know as “tequila” was reportedly first made in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors who had run out of imported brandy (which is why they originally called it “Mezcal Brandy”).… More
This weekend marks Bastille Day in France and also National Ice Cream Day in the United States, so it’s the perfect time to recount the very first ice cream-related trademark lawsuit in the U.S. (or at least the earliest one available to us): French Brothers Dairy v. Giacin.
Is it defamatory to falsely accuse someone of infringing intellectual property? Last month, the California Court of Appeal, in FilmOn.com v. DoubleVerify, Inc., affirmed the dismissal of a defamation action in which the defendant was accused of falsely labeling the plaintiff as a copyright infringer.
Does that mean you can just go ahead and call anyone you don’t like a copyright infringer,… More
Well, that happened! According to the Supreme Court’s opinion in Matal v. Tam, Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which purports to prohibit the registration of marks that “disparage . . . persons,” is unconstitutional. When we first started blogging on this topic, here, we noted that certain stars were aligning for a constitutional showdown. … More
Earlier this month, KISS guitarist Gene Simmons filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to register the “devil’s horns” hand gesture, which he routinely flashes at rock shows, as a trademark for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.” This bold move brings up a number of interesting questions, ranging from “Does the gesture really function as an indicator of source that points to Simmons?” to “How will he ever enforce it?” to “Can you really claim trademark rights in a hand gesture?” For a number of reasons,… More