Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Supreme Court Establishes Test for Copyrightability of Two-Dimensional Designs Incorporated Into Useful Articles in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court established a test for determining whether a design that is incorporated into a useful article is entitled to copyright protection. In its much-awaited opinion in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., the Supreme Court affirmed the Sixth Circuit and held that the two-dimensional designs appearing on the surface of cheerleading uniforms were entitled to copyright protection because they were sufficiently separable from the utilitarian aspects of the uniform.… More

Hot News, Shredded Wheat and Wool Underwear: Brandeis On Copyright And Trademark

brandeisOctober 9 marks the 100th anniversary of Louis Brandeis’ first session as a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (October 9, 1916 was the second Monday in October – in 1917, the Court began meeting on the first Monday).  This occasion is worthy of remembrance not only because of the historical importance of the man himself, but also because Brandeis was the first Jewish jurist (or non-Christian of any creed) to ascend to the high court,… More

Fall Is In The Air: Are The Justices Getting Ready For The Gridiron?

The Washington Redskins Ask The Supreme Court To Block Fourth Circuit From Participation In Important Trademark Cases

footballAnother Labor Day is behind us, kids are back to school, and fall has unofficially arrived (it will become official on the September 22nd equinox).  The autumn leaves bring with them two major opening days.  One is already behind us, as the NFL literally kicked off its season on September 8 with a matchup between the Carolina Panthers (20) and the Denver Broncos (21).… More

Of Slants, Skins and Signs: The Coming First Amendment Showdown

adsfAre we heading for a constitutional showdown over Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act?  Will the Supreme Court strike down this prohibition on disparaging marks as an abridgement of First Amendment rights?  It is certainly beginning to look like a distinct possibility. Two developments lead me to this conclusion.

Disparaging Marks and Spending Power

The first development arises from two trademark cases that are now on appeal,… More

Superman Dodges a Bullet: Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Heirs’ Bid to Reclaim Character Copyright

Man of SteelClose on the heels of the settlement between Marvel Comics and Jack Kirby’s heirs, which ended their dispute over copyright in a number of iconic comic book characters, the heirs to one of Superman’s co-creators, artist Joseph Shuster, lost out on the chance of a Supreme Court hearing in their effort to wrest copyright in the Man of Steel away from DC Comics.  Like Kirby’s heirs,… More

Copyright Office: Aereo Likely Not A Cable Company

IMage for AereoWe previously reported on the Supreme Court’s recent decision on June 25, 2014 that Aereo, Inc.’s internet television service infringed the copyright of the programs being transmitted by the service. In holding that Aereo was doing more than simply providing antenna access to its customers, Justice Breyer identified “Aereo’s overwhelming likeness to the cable companies” that are subject to regulation under the 1976 Copyright Act.… More

This Porridge is Just Right: Supreme Court Adopts “Zones of Interest” Standing in False Advertising Cases

Bears When we last posted about Lexmark v. Static Control, we expected that the Supreme Court would endorse one of the circuit court tests to determine whether Static Control, the maker of a chip that facilitates printer cartridge remanufacturing, had standing to bring a false advertising claim against Lexmark, a company that makes printers and printer cartridges but is not strictly a competitor of Static Control.… More

Nike’s Successful Retreat Strategy: Trademark Defendant’s Invalidity Counterclaim Is Moot Following Plaintiff’s Covenant Not to Sue

Nike, having sued competitor Already LLC for infringing its marks, later issued a covenant not to sue to Already and sought to dismiss the case.  Defendant Already, however, had filed a counterclaim seeking a declaration that Nike’s mark was invalid, and argued that that counterclaim should proceed.  The District Court dismissed the counterclaim, and the Second Circuit affirmed that there was no ongoing case or controversy. … 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,… More