Monthly Archives: October 2011

How Useful Is Your Halloween Costume? Knock-off Costumes and the Useful Article Doctrine

So, I hear you are selling Halloween costumes, the designs for which you copied from another manufacturer. Well, gather around the fire, because I have a very scary story to tell you.

Chosun International was the manufacturer of impossibly cute animal costumes for children, featuring plush sculpted hoods and sleeves shaped like various animals’ heads and paws. In 2002, Chosun sued one of its competitors for copying these designs. In a very eerie opinion, the District Court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding… More

Update: Autodesk Still Owns Your Software

On October 3, 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court declined a request to grant certiorari in Vernor v. Autodesk. As we reported previously, enterprising vendor Timothy Vernor, who attempted to sell second-hand (but unopened and authentic) copies of Autodesk’s AutoCAD software on eBay, was rebuffed by the Ninth Circuit, which determined that Autodesk’s customers were licensees and not owners. Thus the sale of the AutoCAD software to Vernor — which was prohibited by the AutoCAD license — was invalid, and Vernor himself, neither a licensee nor an owner, could not avail himself of the first sale doctrine…. More

The Guantanamo Copyright SNAFU and the History of the Government Works Doctrine

Last week, Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg, perhaps best known for her coverage of government activities at Guantanamo Bay, reported that the U.S. government had violated U.S. Copyright law . . . kind of. In an effort to “rebrand” its military tribunals, the Pentagon spent about $500,000 on a new website, http://www.mc.mil/. After all that effort and expense, it was only natural that some well-intended individual put the following notice at the bottom of the home page: “Copyright © 2011 Office of Military Commissions.”

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Twitter and Twittad Settle Dispute over TWEET

The lawsuit between Twitter and Twittad about which we wrote yesterday has ended barely a month after it began. Twitter and Twittad announced on October 10, 2011, that they have settled their dispute over Twittad’s registration of LET YOUR AD MEET TWEETS as a trademark. While the full terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, the Wall Street Journal reports that Twitter will drop its lawsuit, and Twittad will assign its rights in the registration to Twitter, although Twittad will continue to use the tagline with its services. [more]

Twitter Stakes Its Claim to TWEET

UPDATE: Twitter and Twittad have settled their dispute. Click here for details.

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The online “microblogging” service Twitter filed suit last month against Twittad, LLC, a company that enlists Twitter users to participate in advertising campaigns for pay. Twittad has registered the phrase LET YOUR AD MEET TWEETS with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) as an identifier for its advertising-related services. The lawsuit represents the latest step in Twitter’s efforts to assert proprietary rights in the term “tweet,” which, according to the Online… More

The Second Circuit Agrees: Just Say No to Gray Market Goods

Under U.S. law, a copyright holder possesses the exclusive right to copy and distribute the copyrighted work. However, after the copyright owner sells a copy, the First Sale Doctrine permits the subsequent owner to re-distribute the copy without consent or interference from the copyright holder. This is why, once you buy a book or a CD, you can give it away or resell it with no fear of being sued for copyright infringement. This seems a pretty cut and dry proposition if you stop into your local book or record store (if you are lucky enough to find one these… More

Teachbook Goes All In Against Facebook, But Fails to Obtain Early Dismissal

As mentioned in our prior blog entry, Facebook has sued Teachbook.com LLC in the Northern District of Illinois for infringement of the ubiquitous FACEBOOK mark, after losing a venue battle in the Northern District of California this past May.

Facing an astronomically larger opponent, Teachbook went for an aggressive strategy that has tempted many a defendant: to see if, despite the very high hurdle imposed by Rule 12, it could get the suit dismissed prior to discovery. It’s very difficult to win such motions even under the more… More