Category Archives: Uncategorized

Copyright Claims Based on Submission of Prior Art to Patent Office Finally Dismissed: Were They The “Weakest Infringement Claims of All Time”?

In April 2012, we reported on four copyright lawsuits filed by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and John Wiley & Sons. Ltd, the publishers of a range of scientific literature.  These suits alleged that four law firms in Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota and Texas had infringed the AIP’s copyrights by submitting certain scientific articles to […]

District Court Allows Claims to Proceed Against Ripoffreport.com For Copyright Infringement And “Unfair or Deceptive” Acts In Connection With Allegedly False Online Review

We previously reported on the unique cyber dilemma faced by Richard Goren, a Massachusetts attorney.  Back in 2012, a disgruntled former client of Goren’s logged onto the consumer review site, Ripoff Report (http://www.Ripoff Report/), and posted an outlandish – and apparently false – review of Goren’s business.  The review referred to Goren  as “Psycho-Richard” and […]

Skippy v. Skippy: The Great Peanut Butter Trademark Wars

According to the National Peanut Board, March is not only National Peanut Month, but it contains National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day and National Peanut Cluster Day. That makes March a good time to remember one of the longest running battles in trademark law history, a dispute that began when the second Roosevelt was President and […]

Third Circuit Attempts to Untangle Defamation and False Light Invasion of Privacy

In Graboff v. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that the defendant’s statement was not defamatory but was a false light invasion of privacy (“false light”). The defendant appealed on the grounds that such a ruling was inconsistent as a matter of law. On February 20, 2014, the Third Circuit […]

Commercial Disparagement An Increasing Concern In The Age Of Social Media

Companies are turning to social media with increasing frequency to directly communicate with customers and potential customers.  T-Mobile USA is no exception. Not only did the company release an astonishingly snarky press release in January, complete with fake quotations attributed to AT&T, but both T-Mobile and its CEO, John Legere, have recently taken to Twitter […]

“Facebook Said I Could” Defense Fails to Justify Digital Millennium “Trademark” Notice

CrossFit, Inc., the fitness training company, licenses its trademarked name and goodwill to over eight thousand affiliates worldwide at $3,000 per year per affiliate. When non-affiliate Jenni Alvies began posting on Facebook about fitness under the name “Crossfit Mamas” (including selling exercise apparel bearing the same name), CrossFit felt Alvies was infringing its mark. So […]

Crimes of the Heart: A Trademark Valentine To Betty Boop

Betty Boop, the cartoon character created by Max Fleischer in 1930, has always been associated with the trappings of Valentine’s Day. She is frequently depicted on merchandise alongside symbols of love, especially the heart shape. But in 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals arguably killed Betty Boop’s trademark with that very shape. Why would […]

Jury’s Verdict in Madden Football Copyright Case Overturned

We previously reported on Robin Antonick’s copyright claim against Electronic Arts, Inc. (“EA”) over the software for the Apple II John Madden Football game. Antonick didn’t have a copy of his original source code at the time of trial, so instead he had an expert take whatever binary code had survived and use that data to […]

Martin Luther King, Jr. and “Publication” under the 1909 Copyright Act

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, delivered during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.  It also marked the 50th anniversary of the first of many copyright lawsuits over that speech. King v. Mister Maestro, Inc. Just after the speech was delivered, two record […]

A Turkey of a Trademark: Why you can’t have “Baked Tam” for Thanksgiving

In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from miser to profligate is marked by his purchase of a turkey for the Cratchit family.  Turkey used to be a luxury food, in most households suitable only for special occasions.  In the 1930’s, Americans ate an average of only 1.7 pounds of turkey each year […]

The Madrid Protocol: Passage to India Now Open

We previously reported that India was scheduled to become the 90th member of the Madrid Protocol Concerning the International Registration of Trademarks (the “Protocol”).  We noted that this was a gratifying prospect, since India’s National Trademark Office is notoriously overburdened and slow-moving.  Under the Protocol, a country is typically required to examine a registration request […]

“Be fruitful and multiply . . . but not in those words”: How much good faith is required when giving birth to a DMCA takedown notice?

Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides copyright owners with the ability to demand that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) remove unauthorized copies from the internet.  This can be a powerful tool. Risk-averse ISPs, unwilling to expose themselves to liability for copyright infringement, often comply with such notices without regard for their merit. Thus, […]

Hopper Copyright Litigation Takes Center Stage at the Consumer Electronics Show

Dish Networks’ Hopper device has spurred a considerable amount of legal controversy. Recently, that controversy made its way into the official award ceremony of the Consumer Electronics Show. Dish released its Hopper DVR in May 2012.  The Hopper’s “Primetime Anytime” feature automatically records the entire primetime lineups of CBS, ABC, FOX, and NBC.  During playback, […]

Will the Supreme Court Review Copyright Damages in Music Downloading Case?

Like Joel Tenenbaum, who has been discussed in prior entries in this blog, Jammie Thomas-Rasset has conducted a long-running battle with the recording industry over how much damages she should pay for her downloading activity.  Like Mr. Tenenbaum, she argues that large statutory damages are unfair against individual “consumer” downloaders who contributed only minimally to […]

SORT OF THE RINGS: Will Trademark Fair Use Protect Age of the Hobbits?

In August of this year, Warner Brothers finally announced the release of Age of the Hobbits, Peter Jackson’s long-awaited follow-up to his Lord of the Rings trilogy, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous fantasy novels. Age of the Hobbits tells the tale of a clever group of diminutive Indonesian tribesmen who convince Chinese actress Bai Ling […]