10 Copyright Cases Every Fan Fiction Writer Should Know About

fan-fictionIf you are a Star Trek fan, the name Axanar has almost certainly crossed your lips or your computer screen recently. Axanar is a film (well, at least a very good trailer aspiring to be a film) set in the Star Trek universe, which tells the back story of Garth of Izar, a character who appeared in one episode of the original Star Trek series.… More

Beth Hella Receives National Docketing Association’s First-Ever Lifetime Achievement Award

bethCongratulations to Beth Hella, Senior Trademark Administration Manager at Foley Hoag LLP, who recently received the first ever Lifetime Achievement award presented by the National Docketing Association (NDA).  Beth was honored for her dedication and commitment to the NDA and for her perseverance in the advancement and education of docketing professionals.

Beth served as Treasurer of the NDA for four years before resigning from the Board at the end of 2015 to join the NDA’s Education Committee and initiate the creation the NDA Resource Library,… More

Happy Birthday To Me: An Iconic Song Enters The Public Domain After Copyright Settlement

Birthday chocolate cake with burning candles as a number fifty on brown background

As I turn 50 years old this week, I can’t help but think of the famous Happy Birthday song and the class action that resulted in its entering the public domain earlier this year.  The class action plaintiffs in that case filed a declaratory judgment action in the Central District of California against two music companies that had been enforcing the copyright in Happy Birthday and requiring the payment of royalties in some circumstances where it had been used commercially,… More

Hot News, Shredded Wheat and Wool Underwear: Brandeis On Copyright And Trademark

brandeisOctober 9 marks the 100th anniversary of Louis Brandeis’ first session as a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (October 9, 1916 was the second Monday in October – in 1917, the Court began meeting on the first Monday).  This occasion is worthy of remembrance not only because of the historical importance of the man himself, but also because Brandeis was the first Jewish jurist (or non-Christian of any creed) to ascend to the high court,… More

District Court Denies Motion To Dismiss In Popcorn App Copyright Fight

imunchiesThis summer, the competition for popcorn popping mobile apps heated up as the creators of “Perfect Popcorn” and “iMunchies” battled over copyright infringement claims. On July 18, 2016, a judge in the Northern District of California denied a motion to dismiss the claims, allowing the question of whether or not these apps offer substantially similar virtual depictions of popcorn to go forward.

Diamond Foods,… More

Of Slants, Skins And Signs: The Supreme Court Grants Certiorari

SlantsWe have been following the course of In re Tam as it has progressed through the PTO and the courts. See our prior posts here, here, here, here and here. To recap, at issue is whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which prohibits the registration of marks that may disparage persons,… More

Trademarks in Telemark: Five Brands and Other Things to Look For at PTMG in Oslo

Akershus Fortress OsloI am excited to be traveling to Norway next week to attend my first conference of the Pharmaceutical Trade Marks Group in Oslo.  Not having been to PTMG before, I can’t offer much insight on the conference, but since I lived in Oslo for a year many years ago, I do have a bit to say about the host city.  In the spirit of a smorgasbord,… More

European Court Of Justice: Linking To Playboy Pics May Infringe Copyright

captureOn September 8, 2016, the European Court of Justice rendered a controversial decision in GS Media v. Sanoma Media, which has been acclaimed by copyright holders and heavily criticized by internet companies.

The Dutch version of Playboy magazine, published by Sanoma, was about to publish photographs of a Dutch TV celebrity, Britt Dekker, when it learned that unauthorized copies of the images were already available on an Australian website.… More

Advertising Through Social Media: Ten Tips For FTC & NAD Compliance


This post first appeared in Law360 as “10 Considerations When Advertising On Social Media,” published on September 21, 2016.

Most modern advertising campaigns include social media components. In fact, it is not uncommon today to see products advertised exclusively on social media. For the most part, the same rules that govern traditional advertising also govern commercial speech on social media.… More

I May Not Be Able To Pronounce Acai But I Know It Doesn’t Burn Fat Cells: 5 Recent Over-the-Top Weight Loss Advertising Claims And How The Federal Trade Commission Responded

acaiSome say “ah-sigh;” I say “ah-kai;” but apparently the proper pronunciation of “acai”  — the so-called super berry  — is actually “ah-sigh-ee.”  Who knew?  Acai berries are native to the Amazon rainforest and have been hailed by marketers as offering a slew of health benefits, including massive weight loss.    Unfortunately, according to various consumer advocacy groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest,… More

Fall Is In The Air: Are The Justices Getting Ready For The Gridiron?

The Washington Redskins Ask The Supreme Court To Block Fourth Circuit From Participation In Important Trademark Cases

footballAnother Labor Day is behind us, kids are back to school, and fall has unofficially arrived (it will become official on the September 22nd equinox).  The autumn leaves bring with them two major opening days.  One is already behind us, as the NFL literally kicked off its season on September 8 with a matchup between the Carolina Panthers (20) and the Denver Broncos (21).… More

Copyright Plaintiffs Keep Trying to Topple Empire. Can Proto-Cookie Succeed Where Others Failed?

empire-posterJust in time for the Season 3 premiere, let’s take a look back at Empire’s year in IP litigation.

Like the fictional Lyon family, which is constantly beset by threats from Feds, old criminal connections, and music business competitors, their show Empire finds itself a regular target for infringement claims.  As with any successful show (or family), many people want to claim credit and their own slice of a quite lucrative pie. … More

I Really Like “I [LOVE] NY” – The History Of An Iconic Logo And Ad Campaign

I Love NYI am in New York City for the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s (“IPO”) Annual  Meeting. I have been to the Annual Meeting before in other cities and had a great time, but was thrilled when I heard that it was going to be in NYC in 2016. Even though I live in Boston, I love New York and visit often. There are so many iconic things to see in New York,… More

Copyright At The Museum: Musings In Anticipation Of The IPO Dinner At The MoMA

As a fan of modern art, I am looking forward to the dinner reception at next week’s Annual Meeting of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), which will be held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  As a member of IPO’s Copyright Committee, in anticipation of the dinner I have been musing about a fascinating and complicated question:  Can I take snapshots of the art while visiting the MoMA? … More

Don’t Think About Copyright Law on Labor Day

OperatorLabor Day is the wrong time to think about copyright law, especially in 2016, because this year marks the twenty fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service, 499 U.S. 340 (1991). That’s the case that took the “labor” out of copyright jurisprudence by ending the “sweat of the brow” doctrine.

Why was “labor” a factor in the first place? … More