Monthly Archives: March 2014

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

wea

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 the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) as “prior art.” In other words,… More

Copyright Office to Study Music Licensing

Copyright Office LogoThe United States Copyright Office has announced the initiation of a study of the effectiveness of existing methods of music licensing. Three types of licenses were mentioned in the announcement: (1) compulsory licenses for the reproduction and distribution of musical compositions; (2) licenses for the public performance of compositions through ASCAP and BMI; and (3) licenses for the relatively new right in the digital public performance of sound recordings.… 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

Social Media Fan Accounts: Honoring a Celebrity’s Brand or a Trademark Violation?

Dean1

Social media has become a powerful marketing tool, allowing celebrities to develop their brands and images with the help of Facebook updates or Tweets that can reach millions of fans at the same time. Given the importance of social media as a brand-building medium, how should the law treat “fan accounts,” which are created by fans using a celebrity’s name? What protection does the law provide to celebrities trying to control usage of their personae and brands on social media platforms?… More

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

RippoffWe previously reported on the unique cyber dilemma faced by Richard Goren, a Massachusetts attorney.  Back in 2012, a disgruntled opponent of one of Goren’s clients 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 accused him of,… More

CafePress Tchotchkes May Not Get Digital Millennium Copyright Act Protection

t-shirtFor those of us who like customized tchotchkes, CafePress is a marvel. You can take any photo or message you like, use the CafePress website to electronically slap it on a t-shirt (or keychain, iPhone case, etc.), and then order a non-electronic copy for yourself. Before you can say “7-10
business days,” you are drinking your morning coffee from of a marginally humorous bespoke mug while wearing a baseball cap with a picture of your cat on it.… More

EXCELLENT Political Ad Removed For Copyright Infringement

Burns2

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s reelection campaign appears to be based on a simple message: “Do you want C. Montgomery Burns Representing You in Springfield?” Yes, he means that C. Montgomery Burns. Yesterday, Quinn began a media blitz comparing his opponent (businessman Bruce Rauner) to the Simpsons character. This included the release of an ad on YouTube which reportedly featured images of Rauner juxtaposed with clips from the Simpsons.… More

Crowd-Sourced Review Website May Incur Lanham Act Liability For Selectively Deleting Reviews

MovingStorage

Today’s consumers depend on “crowd-sourced” review websites like Angie’s List and Yelp, which permit users to post and read reviews of goods and services.  Businesses feel a corresponding pressure to encourage favorable reviews on such websites.  But what happens when the website intervenes to regulate the reviews it hosts, perhaps (for example) by deleting reviews that appear phony or suspicious?  Can a business sue the website for deleting reviews that would otherwise reflect positively on its goods or services?… More

Antitrust Claims Against SESAC Copyright Licenses Permitted To Proceed

Performing rights organizations (PROs) are entities that issue licenses to, and collect royalties from, television stations and other parties who wish to perform or dylanbroadcast copyrighted musical compositions. There are three PROs in the United States, the largest of which are ASCAP and BMI. The other PRO, the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) has until recently been the Jan Brady of the bunch –… More

Fox News Reports Copyright “Attack on Christians” – The Fair and Balanced Use Defense

Fox news recently reported on a dispute between Gulfport, Mississippi resident Kelly Taylor and her local Walgreens pharmacy.  Ms. Taylor, using Walgreens’ online Capturephoto service, attempted to print out a few pages of the Bible to hand out to members of her church. Walgreens refused, citing copyright law. When Walgreens told Taylor that it would require approval from the author, she informed the store that God was the author so “who exactly would I get the approval from?”

Ms.… More

“Munger Games” Political Copyright Case Fails to Survive Summary Judgment on Fair Use

On February 26, 2014, the Northern District of California issued its opinion in Dhillon v. Does 1-10.  Judge Susan Illston held that the use of a political campaign photograph by one’s political enemies is fair use.

The Munger Games is a political blog run by anonymous California conservatives who are not fans of socially liberal California Republican politics, exemplified in their eyes by businessman Charlie Munger.… More

Liability Insurer May Have to Cover Knockoff Jewelry Site for Allegedly Violating Reese Witherspoon’s Right of Publicity

kateHave you always wanted to own “The One Ring to Rule Them All” of Lord of the Rings fame?  Do you dream of an engagement ring just like Kate Middleton’s?  Your dreams can come true with a visit to Emitations.com, a website that sells costume jewelry, including imitations of celebrity baubles.  There you can search for “Middleton” and find several versions of the famous royal sapphire-and-diamond band,… More

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 ended when the second Bush was President. It was all about peanut butter.… More