In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the Ninth Circuit Hana Financial v. Hana Bank and ruled that the question of “tacking” — whether a party’s prior version of its trademark is so closely similar to the current one that the prior period of use should be added, thus giving an earlier priority date — is for juries, not judges, to decide. The logic of the opinion is fairly simple: since the similarity of the prior mark is… More
The Beastie Boys can look back on 2014 as a year of good copyright outcomes. The preceding years had seen their music used without authorization in two promotional videos, by Goldieblox and Monster Energy, despite the surviving members’ commitment to honor the wishes of Adam Yauch, known as MCA, that Beastie Boys music not be used in commercial advertisements. The remaining band members, Adam Horowitz and Michael Diamond, decided to Make Some Noise about both unauthorized uses and, in 2014, saw the resulting legal disputes… More
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as the saying goes. However, things are not always as they appear, and sometimes events unfold in ways you would not anticipate. Such is the case with the Ninth Circuit decision in the matter of Omega v. Costco. The case concerns Omega’s allegations that Costco was importing watches bearing the Omega symbol, thus infringing the copyright in that design. Despite the fact that the parties on appeal briefed only one hotly contested legal issue – copyright misuse – the Ninth Circuit’s majority opinion… More
Heading into this year’s Super Bowl party season, there are two things every lawyer should be concerned about. First, why can’t your team get it together? Second, what do you do if you are asked to explain to your friends and neighbors some NFL-related litigation that you haven’t been following? We can’t help you with the first problem (although, as an Iggles fan living in the heart of Patriots Nation, I feel your pain). As to the second problem, however, we’ve got you covered, at least when it comes to… More
This has been an exciting week in Buckeye Nation – The Ohio State University’s football team won the first-ever college football national championship determined by a playoff system, defeating the Oregon Ducks 42 to 20. It has also been an exciting week for College Football Playoff (CFP), the company responsible for managing the new playoff system, in which a committee selects four teams for a two-round playoff (in contrast to the previous system, in which two teams, chosen by polls and computer algorithms, played for the title). The championship game on… More
Like claims for defamation or commercial disparagement, Lanham Act claims are viable only if they involve statements of fact, rather than opinion. But what happens if an advertising statement concerns an issue that is a matter of scientific debate? Does that make the statement an opinion, and therefore non-actionable? The answer, of course, is “it depends” — as illustrated by a recent Fifth Circuit case, and how it distinguished itself from a Second Circuit case with a different outcome.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has upheld the conviction of an Andover couple for violation of the Commonwealth’s criminal harassment statute by, among other things, posting fake ads on Craigslist. In brushing aside the couple’s challenges to the statute, the Court emphatically held that the First Amendment does not provide a defense to allegations of criminal harassment simply because the defendant uses words to carry out the harassment. The Court also rejected the defendants’ attempt to “launder their harassment . . . through the internet to escape liability.”
The case of Latele Television v. Telemundo Communications Group might have been a simple factual dispute over copyright ownership, but instead it has devolved into a series of accusations — including allegations of willful discovery violations and forgery — that could have been lifted directly from the telenovelas at issue in the case. This fascinating dispute, still ongoing in the Southern District of Florida, serves as an object lesson on the importance of thorough pre-litigation investigation, open communication among co-counsel, and candor in discovery responses.
Latele Television claims to own… More
The Biograph Company was founded in 1895 by William Kennedy Dickson, a former employee of Thomas Edison. Biograph became known for its two-minute long documentaries made using a 68mm film format (in order to avoid the litigious Edison’s patents on 35mm technology), but over time it began making short narrative films instead. These films became more popular after Biograph… More
We are happy to announce that the Trademark and Copyright Law blog has earned a spot on the ABA Journal’s “Blawg 100” for 2014.The Blawg 100 is a curated list of the top legal blogs, which is then narrowed down to a smaller list by popular vote.
If you have enjoyed any of our articles over the past year, we hope you’ll consider giving us a vote. You can do that here. It takes just a couple of minutes.
If you are hosting or attending a party this holiday season, you probably need to pick up something to drink. This year, why not pick up a conversation starter as well? See if your local liquor store (in our neck of the woods, a “packie”) carries one of the many beverages that were the subject of a trademark or similar dispute in 2014. In deciding an 1891 trademark case, Lord MacNaghten famously quipped: “Thirsty folk want beer, not explanations.” Well, with our guide, you can provide both beer and explanations. … More
This week, Judge Patti B. Saris of the District of Massachusetts denied a motion to dismiss a defamation action that had been brought by Abdulrahman Alharbi against radio and television personality Glenn Beck. In denying the motion, the Court rejected Beck’s theory that Alharbi, by virtue of his attending the Boston Marathon and second-hand reports of “suspicious” behavior, had become a “limited purpose” or “involuntary” public figure with respect to the Boston Marathon bombing.
Alharbi and the Boston Marathon Bombing
Alharbi, a citizen of Saudi Arabia studying in the United… More
Last year, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we told you about Horace W. Longacre’s unsuccessful attempt to register BAKED TAM as a trademark for its “turkey ham” product in the early 1980s. This year we bring you a related tale, involving another trademark loss for Longacre’s turkey ham product, just a few years earlier. The deadpan introduction to Judge Alfred Luongo’s 1976 opinion for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania sets the stage admirably:
Those words identify the sound made by a male turkey. That fact and the desire… More
Since its first broadcast on February 1, 1942, the Voice of America radio service (VOA) has aired countless hours of programming in dozens of languages to what is currently an estimated global audience of over 100 million people. Although the history of the VOA name is storied and long, VOA’s efforts to protect that name are of a more recent vintage. VOA didn’t apply to register its name as a federal trademark until 2005, and didn’t get around to registering an internet domain name until after sites such as voiceofamerica.com… More
The plaintiff in Avalos v. IAC/Interactive Corp. called it “one of the biggest conspiracies ever executed on the internet” — the unauthorized use of images of adult film stars in fake online dating profiles. But in an opinion issued October 30, 2014, Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District of New York held that trademark law was not the right way to go about solving this problem. The complaint was dismissed in its entirety.
The Romance Fraud Scam