Tag Archives: Copyright

Is Your Turkey Wishbone Protected By Copyright?

The use of a bird’s furcula, or “wishbone,” for divination purposes dates back to the ancient Etruscans, and the ritual of two people pulling on the furcula to determine who would get married first has its origins in late medieval Europe. From there, some version of the custom likely was brought to America by the pilgrims, who would have referred to the bone as a “merrythought.” Given all that history,… More

European Union Copyright Directive’s Back on the Radar

We previously commented in early July on the proposed European Union (“EU”) Copyright Directive. At that time, the proposed Directive had just endured a setback before the Parliament, which decided to revise it.

After the summer break, on September 12, 2018, the EU Parliament finally adopted its “revised negotiating position.” The Parliament announced in its press release that it had added to the text “safeguards to protect small firms and freedom of expression”.… More

Copyright Office Finds “Ballooned Droplet” is Really Just a Fat Apostrophe

In theory, a corporate logo should stand just as good a chance at being eligible for copyright registration and protection as any other kind of visual art. Section 913.1 of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices expressly provides that a logo may be registered if it satisfies “the requisite qualifications for copyright,” that is, if it “embodies some creative authorship in its delineation and form.”

But in practice,… More

National Geographic “Iceberg” Photo Stirs A Copyright Controversy, But No Lawsuit As Of Yet

The National Geographic Society is an interesting organization.  Since 1888, it has published the iconic magazine National Geographic, recognizable to many by the trademark yellow border on the cover page.  And yes, that border is literally a registered trademark.

Like any other magazine publisher, “Nat Geo” (as they like to call themselves these days) encounters a wide range of IP issues. … More

Everybody Dance Now! Actually, Don’t … That Choreography May Be Copyrighted

‘Tis the season of summer stock, music festivals, and outdoor performances. For my own part, I took in Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires, one of the country’s preeminent dance festivals. While an amazing piece of dance can make everyone want to join in, there are some dances no one should mimic without authorization, at least not as part of a commercial “public performance,” as that term is defined by 17 U.S.C.… More

“Forest of Light” Trade Dress Claim Nixed; Trademark Claim Survives

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

Copyright Office Denies Protection for “Unique” Product Packaging

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

I usually don’t write a whole blog post just to disagree with a sitting federal judge, even when it’s about copyright law’s most notorious disagreement-generating machine: fair use.

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

The Thin Dull Line: Are These Auto Interiors Sufficiently Creative for Copyright Protection?

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?

Not according to CORB, which recently released its opinion in the matter of Novem Car Interiors.… More

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

Watch: Copyright Basics for the Generalist In-House Counsel

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.

David KluftJoshua Jarvis, Jenevieve MaerkerMarion Cavalier and Nicole Kinsley presented a webinar offering guidance for in-house counsel regarding copyright law,… More