On March 4, 2019, the United States Supreme Court held that, with certain exceptions, a copyright owner must obtain a copyright registration certificate from the Copyright Office before filing a copyright infringement suit. The unanimous opinion in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.Com, LLC, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affirmed the Eleventh Circuit and resolved a split among the circuit courts of appeal.… More
On January 11, 2019, the Cancellation Division of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) rendered a surprising decision that revoked in its entirety the McDonald’s Company’s BIG MAC trademark registration, which had been registered in the EU since December 1998.
This is the latest chapter in a fight between McDonald’s and Supermac’s, a competing chain that operates fast-food restaurants in both parts of Ireland.… More
If you haven’t heard already, New York Fashion Week is here! As usual, a lineup of awe-inspiring shows is expected to roll out over the next several days, as it does every September and February, highlighting the latest fashion trends of some of world’s most famous designers. One of the big stories surrounding New York Fashion Week this year is the amount of cultural diversity expected to appear on the runway. … More
In an interesting case pending before the TTAB, law students from the Suffolk University IP and Entrepreneurship Clinic have opposed an application filed by United Trademark Holdings, Inc. to register RAPUNZEL as a trademark for dolls and toy figures. The students, led by clinic director Loletta “Lolita” Darden, represent Professor Rebecca Curtin, a trademark law professor and mother of a young girl who has purchased dolls. … More
If you have ever been tasked with considering what types of intellectual property protection were available for a new packaging design, copyright may not be the first thing that came to mind. After all, it is trademark law that is designed to protect the public’s association with a commercial name or logo, and in some cases the distinctive look (or “trade dress”) of a product and/or its packaging.… More
Who said there’s no looking back? It is crucial to consider key takeaways from the most important IP cases from 2018 when planning for 2019. Foley Hoag presents a webinar offering guidance on what we learned this year and what to prepare for in the new year.
Our speakers focus on 2018 developments in copyright, patent and trademark law.
Foley Hoag provides a full range of services to start-up companies,… More
You may think the phrase “million-dollar smile” is just a metaphor, but a smile could cost you millions of dollars in litigation damages if you aren’t careful, at least according to Nirvana LLC, the legal entity that owns the intellectual property rights relating to the 90’s rock band Nirvana.
Nirvana’s Smiley Face Logo
If you thought the image of a yellow smiley face was too common to be owned by anyone,… More
At the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, the Pompidou Museum organized a retrospective of the work of Jeff Koons, which attracted thousands of visitors but gave rise to several lawsuits.
The general rule of thumb for trademarks in the U.S. – and everywhere else, for that matter – is “the earlier, the better.” It’s almost always the right move to file a trademark application as early as possible, and well in advance of a product or service announcement, both to (a) minimize the possibility of conflicting marks and filings; and (b) mitigate the potential for attempted trademark and domain name “squatting” that inevitably follows a well-publicized product/service announcement. … More
Is copyright registration required before you can bring a copyright infringement suit? Everyone agrees that the answer is yes. But not everyone agrees on the definition of “registration.” That’s the question that will be under consideration by the Supreme Court at oral argument on January 8, 2019, in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, LLC.
Registration is not required for valid copyright ownership,… More
While scholars and pundits are busy listing the most important copyright rulings of 2018, a development that arguably beats them all is about to occur just as 2018 turns into 2019. On January 1, 2019, copyrighted works will start to age into the public domain for the first time in twenty years, beginning with works published in 1923.
Why did we go twenty years without anything aging into the public domain?… More
A copyright owner’s exclusive rights, codified at Section 106 of the Copyright Act, include the right to control both the reproduction and the distribution of a work. The exclusive distribution right is tempered by the “first sale doctrine,” codified at Section 109 which provides that, once you lawfully obtain a copy of something, you usually can resell the physical object (e.g., a used book) containing that copy.… More
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
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Social media platforms present countless opportunities for companies looking to connect to consumers and clients in real time. But, like so much else in our connected age, these opportunities come with a host of risks ranging from minor public relations blips to unpleasant regulatory run-ins with government agencies, and from DMCA takedowns to right of publicity lawsuits.
Foley Hoag,… More