Picture yourself at dusk along the river, walking through a massive outdoor art installation featuring tens of thousands of individually-placed spheres of light on short stalks, reminiscent of blooming flowers. Ok, now stop and answer this: what kind of intellectual property would you use to protect this installation? If you answered “trade dress,” you get a frowny-face sticker, at least according to the Eighth Circuit’s recent opinion in Munro v.… More
Tag Archives: Copyright
The “Starball” logo of the Union des Associations Européennes de Football (“UEFA”) consists of a round ball made up of black stars, with white polygons in the negative space between the stars. In 2016, UEFA filed an application with the United States Copyright Office to register the Starball as a work of two-dimensional visual art. The Copyright Office was not impressed and, on July 30,… More
If you are having trouble obtaining a federal trademark registration for a product’s packaging, some lawyer has probably mentioned to you that copyright protection is a potential alternative or supplement. This is good advice – to a point. Copyright registration is relatively cheap, nobody will pester you about secondary meaning or use in interstate commerce, and you don’t need consumer confusion evidence to prove infringement. However, when it comes to creative expression,… More
No, Virginia, You Can’t Just Copy Stuff You Find On the Internet, Even if You Don’t Notice the Copyright Notice
This is an exception. A recent decision by the Eastern District of Virginia may cause some individuals and non-profits to believe that it’s permissible to copy and use “publicly available” photos from the internet, as long as they don’t know whether or not the photos are protected by copyright.… More
Are automobile interior designs eligible for copyright protection? Last month, we wrote about the Copyright Office Review Board’s (CORB’s) allowance of the registration of a three-dimensional pattern for an automotive floor mat. Does this mean that every little feature of your car is now eligible for copyright protection?
Star Athletica and the Expansion of Useful Article Protection: Copyright Office Permits Registration of Automotive Floor Liner
The Supreme Court’s decision in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands established a new and simplified test for determining whether useful articles can obtain copyright protection. Many have wondered, in the year since it was decided, about the practical effect of the ruling. Are there really that many items that would not have merited protection before Star Athletica, but that will get it now? … More
What does the generalist in-house counsel need to know about copyright? While patents and trademarks often receive the lion’s share of an organization’s intellectual property focus, copyrights comprise a critical third prong to a healthy overarching IP strategy – even for companies whose products and services involve little or no content creation.
It’s been a while since we felt compelled to revisit the topic of political fair use, that is, the extent to which the use of copyrighted works in political campaigns qualifies as a fair use pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 107. Back in 2014, we discussed the Northern District of California’s holding that the use of a candidate’s photograph by her political enemies was fair use.… More
Earlier this week, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals released its blockbuster decision in Oracle America, Inc. v. Google LLC, which held that Google’s unauthorized use of certain aspects of Oracle’s Java software was not fair use. In the past few days and in the coming weeks, nearly every lawyer who has ever had occasion to turn to Title 17 is going be writing,… More
It’s been a few years since we first wrote about the 5Pointz dispute, where graffiti artists first tried to prevent the destruction of their works by the owner of the spray-painted buildings, and then sought money damages for their destruction. Gerald Wolkoff, who initially allowed and encouraged the creation of the artwork on his buildings, is widely portrayed as the “bad guy” in this story. … More
On past Presidents’ Days, we have discussed the critical roles in the development of U.S. copyright law played by Abraham Lincoln (who extended copyright protection to photographs) and George Washington (whose correspondence was at the center of the dispute that gave rise to the fair use doctrine). This year, it’s Gerald Ford’s turn to ascend to our Mount Rushmore of Copyright.… More
Congratulations to Trademark and Copyright Law Blog co-editor Natasha Reed and author Josh Jarvis on their appointment as Co-Chairs of Foley Hoag’s Trademark, Copyright & Unfair Competition practice group. To celebrate their ascension, we asked them to interview each other about their practices, their histories, and their thoughts on trademark and copyright law.
* * * *
Natasha: First question!… More
In my never-ending quest to write articles that my children would read, I bring you the case of Grumpy Cat.
The guardians of Grumpy Cat (whose actual name is Tardar Sauce), through its company, Grumpy Cat Limited, developed a cottage business in commercially exploiting the likeness of Grumpy Cat for use on, among other things, T-shirts, coffee mugs, books and calendars. … More
If you are a lawyer, there is a serious danger that someone at the Super Bowl party you attend is going to want to talk about an NFL-related legal issue. Did Cowboys owner Jerry Jones really have standing to challenge Commissioner Roger Goodell’s salary package? What is the status of Colin Kaepernick’s collusion lawsuit?… More