Monthly Archives: January 2012

Court Tells Louboutin To Take A Hike. And He Does. To the Second Circuit.

On Tuesday, high-end shoe designer Christian Louboutin told the Second Circuit that District Court Judge Victor Marrero got it wrong when he ruled that Louboutin failed to make a preliminary showing that his hallmark red-soled shoes were entitled to trademark protection, basing that holding on the broad rule that a single color for fashion items could not be trademarked under the Lanham Act.

IP Dispatches from the Political Front: Mitt Slings Copyrighted Mud at Newt

newtandmitt

Along with January’s hot activity in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, we also saw the emergence of two more stories about the intersection of intellectual property and political ads.

One issue is “déjà vu all over again”: political fair use. We are once again confronted with the question of to what extent the fair use doctrine (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html) allows for the use of copyrighted news clips in political advertisements. We’ve previously written about this issue here, here, and here.

This time, it’s Mitt v…. More

How to Protect Your Brand Without Being a Trademark Bully: Lessons from The North Face and Coke

northcoke

A version of this article, which was co-authored by Anthony E. Rufo, was reprinted in the World Trademark Review.

How can the owners of famous trademarks enforce their rights without being given the dreaded “trademark bully” label? The answer lies in knowing where to draw the line, and in exercising diplomacy in letting people know when the line has been crossed.

Many brand owners tolerate minor third party uses of their marks, including unauthorized parodies, fan clubs and the like, which are undertaken in good faith. But brand… More

Congress Puts SOPA and PIPA on Hold

In the wake of last week’s web protests and media attention around pending anti-piracy legislation, leaders in both houses of Congress announced on Friday that they would indefinitely postpone further consideration of the Stop Online Piracy Act (“SOPA”) and the PROTECT IP Act (“PIPA”). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) cancelled the cloture “test” vote to reopen debate on PIPA that had been scheduled for tomorrow, January 24, citing “legitimate issues raised by many” while expressing optimism “that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.” In response, SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced that… More

Historic Web Blackouts Catapult SOPA into Headlines

Google Blackout(1)

The tide may be changing in the controversy over SOPA and PROTECT IP (or “PIPA”), the anti-piracy bills that have been making their way through, respectively, the House and the Senate in recent months. Yesterday’s unprecedented 24-hour global blackout of the English Wikipedia site in protest of the legislation and the new enforcement powers it would create has acted as a lightning rod for public attention. In concert with Wikipedia, Google ran a “censored” version of its logo on its home page yesterday, with a plea… More

Millions of Foreign Works No Longer in the Public Domain: The Supreme Court Upholds 1994 Copyright Law

As the old adage goes, ask a simple question and you’ll get a simple answer. So one might think a question like “how long does a copyright last” would merit an equally concise answer like “the life of the author plus 70 years.” Of course, nothing in life is as simple as it seems and anyone even casually familiar with U.S. copyright law knows that how long a copyright lasts may depend on several factors such as when the work was written, whether it was registered or published in the United States, and whether it was the result of individual… More

Anheuser-Busch Buys “Budweiser” Marks from Czech Brewer

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Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, owner of the U.S. “Budweiser” mark for beer, has recorded a small success in its longstanding efforts to establish worldwide exclusive rights to the Budweiser mark by purchasing the rights to Budweiser trademarks held by a small Czech brewery, Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar.

However, this is a victory in a small skirmish in InBev’s much larger trademark war with another Czech brewer, state-owned Budejovicky Budvar NP. InBev (through Anheuser-Busch) and Budvar have been engaged in multiple disputes related to the Budweiser mark for… More

Welcome to the New Regime: the New gTLD Application Window Launches

A subject of regular discussion here at the Trademark and Copyright Law Blog, the application window for ICANN’s New gTLD Program opens today, over continued vigorous opposition from brand owners and the U.S. Congress. The application window, which runs from today through April 12, 2012, is the only time in which interested parties can apply to operate a new .brand or .generic top-level domain registry, at least for the foreseeable future. While ICANN plans a second (and probably a third, and a fourth…) round of gTLD applications, the timing and the details are still very much… More

A Copyright Hangover: Political Fair Use Revisited, Again

Political primary season is upon us and, just like a bad hangover, one particular political speech question just keeps creating headaches. To what extent is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material in political campaign advertisements protected by the fair use doctrine? Can political ads borrow a clip from a presidential debate? From a televised sporting event? How about a photograph created by an opponent’s campaign?

We previously reported on copyright dustups over the “Miracle On Ice” ads by former U.S. Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, and attack ads against Canadian… More