Monday, September 10, 2007

Second Life Gets its Own IPL Committee. The IPL section of the American Bar Association has annouced the creation of a new committee "responsible for monitoring developments in and educating members regarding legal issues that affect computer gaming and virtual worlds." For information on the Special Commitee on Computer Gaming and Virtual Worlds, or to sign up, go here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Interesting Philosophical Approach. CNN reports in "Author suspicious of similar character on TV." From the article:

"I said, 'Holy jeez, talk about Freudian typos,' " Hamill recalled. "Hey, maybe this will sell the novel: 'You've seen the knockoff, now try the book.' Who knows?"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Let's Hope Apple Had an Indemnity Clause. is reporting that "Eminem sues Apple for copyright infringement." From the article: "In this case, Apple received permission from Universal, Eminem's label, to sell his music on iTunes. But Eight Mile Style, his publisher, says that it also has the right to approve such sales. And because Eight Mile Style never allowed Universal to transfer music-downloading rights to Apple, it says that Apple has no right to sell the rapper's music."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Strange Case Indeed. reports on a recent Eleventh Circuit copyright decision in "Citing Supreme Court Precedent, 11th Circuit Reverses Major Copyright Ruling." From the article: "By declaring Greenberg I moot, the new panel -- Judge Rosemary Barkett, Senior Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch and David G. Trager, a visiting U.S. district judge from the 2nd Circuit in New York -- also resolved a long-standing conflict with the 2nd Circuit created by the Birch opinion. Trager wrote the Greenberg II opinion for the new panel."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Scripts have covers? The AP reports in "Author says 'Knocked Up' ripped off." From the article: "She claims that while pitching her book to Hollywood producers, she learned of Apatow's project and the script, which she says had on it a picture of a martini glass with a pacifier around the stem -- the same as the cover of her book." Apparently, some people feel strongly enough about this to attempt to find uses of the martini glass and pacifier motif that predate Eckler's. The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog has a post about the suit that goes into more of the claimed differences between Eclker's memoir and the film.

Friday, May 11, 2007

So How Does He Plan on Getting Around the Statute of Limitations? World Entertainment News Network reports that "'N Sync In Plagiarism Controversy." From the article: "Former boy band 'N Sync are being sued over claims they plagiarised a song on their 2001 album Celebrity."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Copyright Case Regarding Song Remakes. The AP reports that "Beyonce song in licensing dispute." From the article: "In the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in New York, The Royalty Network Inc., argues that even though Beyonce's version of the song has an altered title and additional lyrics, the singer and her record company failed to get a written agreement to release their remake."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Vonage Gets a Reprieve. The Washington Post reports that "Vonage Can Sell Services During Appeal, Court Says." From the article: "Roger Warin, a lawyer for Vonage, told the appeals court during morning arguments that the company faced a 'real risk of insolvency' if barred from selling its service to new customers as the trial court ordered earlier this month. He asked the three-judge panel to extend an emergency reprieve allowing the company to continue adding new customers."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You Decide. Bloomberg reports that "Exxon Mobil Sues Hyundai Over "Mobis' Trademark." From the article: "Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, asked a federal judge in Wilmington, Delaware, yesterday to bar auto-parts maker Hyundai Mobis Co. from using the 'Mobis' logo and other potentially confusing marks."
And We Have a Circuit Split. 43(B)log reports on the recent Second Circuit decision in "Second Circuit rejects foreign famous marks doctrine federally, certifies state question." From the post: "The Second Circuit, after a long wait, has finally ruled on the validity of the famous marks exception to the territorial scope of trademark protection – and found no such exception in federal law."

Monday, April 02, 2007

So I Guess My I (Heart) DC Piggybank is Ok. The AP reports in "Inspired by TV Legal Dramas, North Carolina Man Wins T-shirt Battle in New York." (Of course, the PTO is actually in Virginia...) From the article: "A North Carolina man has won a nearly three-year battle with New York that allows his company to continue printing the logo 'I heart NC' on T-shirts."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Court Affirms Da Vinci Code Ruling. The AP reports that "Court says `Da Vinci Code' not a copy." From the article: "One of the judges said copyright protects an author's labor in researching and writing a book, but does not extend to facts, theories, and themes."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

$200 Won't Cover the Filing Fees. The AP reports in "Town to Martha Stewart: Hands off our name." From the article: "The society's vote allows the trademark committee to file formal opposition to Stewart's plans, and it authorized spending $200 toward legal costs."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Looks Like Stanford's Fair Use Project Has Been Keeping Busy. Reuters reports that "James Joyce copyright case settled in California." From the article: "Carol Loeb Shloss, an acting professor of English at the California school, filed suit in June after she was forced by the estate to delete substantial portions of her book, 'Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake.' It contained evidence of the younger Joyce's influence on her father's book 'Finnegans Wake.'"
ABBA Strikes Back. The AP reports that "Former ABBA members win court battle over musical script." From the article: "Seth, originally hired to write the script, argued he should be considered the main writer, but Ulvaeus and Andersson disputed the claim, saying his work was unusable and that they instead had to use a script by director Lars Rudolfsson and dramatist Jan Mark."
At Least He Didn't Tell Him it Was a Good Case. The Financial Expres reports in "Can’t tell your cokes apart? Sue someone." From the article: "The campaign is based on an oddball thought, that the executives at Coca-Cola who sell the flagship Coke Classic brand want to hire lawyers to sue their co-workers who sell Coke Zero. The grounds for the imaginary lawsuits would be 'taste infringement'—that is, it annoys the Coke Classic executives that no-calorie Coke Zero tastes so much like their sugared soft drink. In one commercial, a person identified as an actual lawyer who is not in on the joke, tells two actors portraying Coke Classic executives: 'It’ll be dismissed. You’ll be humiliated.' Other ads in the same litigious vein ask if you are 'a victim of taste confusion,' offer to help you 'sue a friend' and even assert that 'Coke Zero stole the taste of Coke.'"
Over/Unders on the Appeal? Reuters reports that "Cablevision Loses Network DVR court case." From the article: "Cablevision had hoped a network-based DVR system, called Remote Storage DVR or RS-DVR, would have done away with the need for the installation of hundreds of thousands of digital set-top boxes in subscribers' homes."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Guess the Writer Doesn't Like the RIAA. But the information is interesting. Ars Technica reports that "Judge's decision leaves RIAA with lose-lose situation in Elektra v. Santangelo." From the article: "The case of Elektra v. Santangelo has been one of the more closely followed cases in the RIAA's crusade against suspected file sharers, due in no small part to the aggressiveness of Patti Santangelo's defense. Ray Beckerman is reporting that Judge Colleen McMahon has denied the RIAA's motion to dismiss the case without prejudice, ruling that the case must either proceed to trial or be dismissed with prejudice."
Is Anyone Surprised by this Ruling? The AP reports that "Court strikes down Internet porn law." From the article: "In the ruling, the judge said parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit the rights of others to free speech."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I Wonder How a Fair Use Defense Would Play Here. reports in "Texas as a trademark." From the article: "Kalaouze’s company Kalcorp Enterprises sells T-shirts with the sayings “Mess with Texas” and “Hunt Texas” on them in College Station stores and online. Neither shirt uses UT’s stylized block lettering, said Allan Van Fleet, Kalaouze’s attorney."
Seriously?!? Journalism schools should start offering a class on Intellectual Property 101. I'm so sick of seeing this type of hyperbole. Ekklesia reports that "East African livelihoods at risk in trademark threat." From the article:
Thousands of East Africans could lose their livelihoods – and the freedom to use a word from their language – if a trademark application by a UK company succeeds, says a leading Christian development organisation.

The application, by the Kikoy Company UK Ltd, would give the company sole commercial rights to the term “kikoy” – a corruption of “kikoi”, the Kiswahili word for the distinctive colourful, wrap skirts worn by men and women along the East African coast.

(And lest you argue that this group isn't composed of real journalists, compare this with other reporting on this issue here and here.)
Why Is the PTO Issuing This, Rather Than the Copyright Office? (And why is the PTO currently advertising for a copyright advisor position?) The Register reports that "US Patent Office says P2P threatens national security." From the article: "The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has launched a stinging attack on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services, publishing a report from its Office of International Relations earlier this month." You can read the report here.
It Looks Like This One Didn't Get a Thorough Quality Review Before Being Sent Out. Although the grounds for refusal appear to be spot-on. reports in "Feds get 'disgusting' over 'Obamanation'." From the article: "'It is a Wikipedia entry for a pretty disgusting, unorthodox sexual device,' said Cotto, struggling to find a way to politely describe what he received. 'I was at work, and my jaw dropped open. I literally screamed for my co-workers. They freaked out just as I did.'" Interestingly, if you look at the Trademark Document Retrieval system for Ser. No. 77/091,557, the Office Action is conspicuously missing (although it's attached to the March 7, 2007 response). Finally, is anyone else as shocked as I am that an office action issued against this application less than two weeks after it was filed?
Feds Crack Down on Invention Scheme. Newsday reports in "Company advertised to help patent seekers under investigation." From the article: "PTI salespeople tell inventors that the company makes money by licensing the products. But by Gumpel's own admission, the company that supposedly licenses PTI's inventions has never successfully negotiated a license agreement."
That's What You Call a Bad Fact. The Seattle Times reports in "Earthbound legal squabble leaves Duvall cafe moonstruck." From the article: "Before he opened, Snow searched the Internet for high-end chocolates, came across Moonstruck's Web site and ordered a box for a taste test, he said. He was so impressed with the quality, he said, he contacted the company about selling the chocolates in his store."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another Argument for Recognizing Residual Goodwill. Since Life would have been presumed abandoned. Slate reports in "Attack of the Zombie Brands!" From the article: "Life, now in its third incarnation, has been similarly updated to keep pace with the times—or at least to stay just behind them. Founded in 1936, the Time, Inc. property was a great, picture-laden weekly magazine. But in 1972, having been superseded by television and other magazines, it stopped publication. The powerful brand was revived as a monthly from 1978 to 2000. But, having been superseded by television, other magazines, and the Internet, it closed again in 2000. In 2004, Life returned as a celebrity-oriented, fluffy weekly that is inserted in Sunday newspapers."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Off Topic, But Can You Imagine Poll Results Like This in the US? Reuters reports in "Most Germans want speed limit on autobahn?" From the article: "The survey also showed that 56 percent of Germans believe flights should be taxed at a higher rate because of the environmental damage they cause."
After 9/11, How Original is That, Really? Reuters reports that "New York artists sue NBC over 'Heroes' concept." From the article: "The artists said their work focused on an artist who paints the future and who specifically paints the destruction of two landmark buildings in New York City. They alleged this was 'strikingly similar' to the character of Isaac Mendez on 'Heroes,' whose paintings of the future depict an explosion in New York City."
Would the Doctrine of Equivalents Affect the Strength in the U.S.? Reuters reports in "Court: 'Oscar' may be generic term in Italian." From the article: "In denying AMPAS' motion for summary judgment, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins wrote that there is no question that the Oscar mark is strong in the English language and, 'The use of 'Oscar' to describe an award or awards program is arbitrary or fanciful and deserves maximum protection. However, EchoStar has presented evidence showing that the word 'Oscar' could be considered generic in Italy and in the Italian language.'"
I Guess She Won't be Guesting on The Simpsons. The AP reports that "Carol Burnett sues over use of Charwoman." From the article: "Carol Burnett has filed a $2 million copyright infringement lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming her cleaning woman character was portrayed on the animated series 'Family Guy.' The U.S. District Court lawsuit, which was filed Thursday, said the Fox show didn't have the 73-year-old comedian's permission to include her cleaning woman character, Charwoman, in an April 2006 episode." (Full disclosure: My firm represents News Corp.)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I Bet This One is Headed for an Appeal. Reuters reports that "Vonage found guilty in Verizon patent case." From the article: "The eight-member jury assessed Vonage $58 million in damages and ordered it to pay a 5.5 percent royalty rate on Vonage sales going forward."
Interesting False Advertising Case. reports in "How Sweet It Isn't: Equal, Splenda to Clash in Trial." From the article: "In a court battle between the makers of the nation's leading sugar substitutes -- Equal and Splenda -- a federal judge has ruled that a jury must decide whether Splenda is misleading consumers by claiming in its ads and on its packaging that the product is 'made from sugar so it tastes like sugar.'"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Am I Missing Something? From this description, I don't see how Ono owns a copyright in the material. The BBC reports that "Lennon documentary blocked by Ono." From the article: "The footage was shot by Ono's former husband Tony Cox and was sold in 2000 for $1m (£760,000) to Mr Thomas and his backers."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Whose Afraid of Webcasting? Certainly sounds like the RIAA is. Wired reports that "U.S. Copyright Royalty Board Rejects Webcasters, Embraces SoundExchange." From the article: "Even adding in ancillary revenues from occasional video gateway ads, banner ads on the website, and so forth, total revenues per listener-hour would only be in the 1.0 to 1.2 cents per listener-hour range. That math suggests that the royalty rate decision — for the performance alone, not even including composers' royalties! — is in the in the ballpark of 100% or more of total revenues."
WikiPatents? The Washington Post reports in "Open Call From the Patent Office." From the article: "The Patent and Trademark Office is starting a pilot project that will not only post patent applications on the Web and invite comments but also use a community rating system designed to push the most respected comments to the top of the file, for serious consideration by the agency's examiners. A first for the federal government, the system resembles the one used by Wikipedia, the popular user-created online encyclopedia."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Some Good News for Microsoft. Reuters reports that "Judge rules for Microsoft in Alcatel-Lucent suit." From the article: "U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster in San Diego dismissed all of Alcatel-Lucent's claims in a summary judgment, meaning that the jury trial set to begin on March 19 will not take place. Alcatel-Lucent said it plans to appeal the ruling."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sounds Like a Belated Assertion of its Rights. The Washington Post reports that "MP3 Patent Verdict Harmless To Music Fans -- For Now." From the article: "Alcatel-Lucent sued Microsoft over audio-file technology that the software giant first included in its Windows operating system in 1998 and later built into its Windows Media Player."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Interesting First Sale Case. IP Law Observer points to this recent Sixth Circuit case analyzing the first sale doctrine under trademark and copyright law.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Interesting Negotiating Strategy. The AP reports that "Cisco, Apple settle iPhone trademark lawsuit." From the article: "The companies said Wednesday they reached an agreement that will allow Apple to use the name for its sleek new multimedia device in exchange for exploring wide-ranging 'interoperability' between the companies' products in the areas of security, consumer and business communications. No other details of the agreement were released."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Somehow I Doubt the Advertisers Are Getting Their Money's Worth... The AP reports that "Entrepreneurs profit from free Web names." From the article: "The department store chain Neiman Marcus Group Inc. even filed a federal lawsuit last year accusing the registration company Dotster Inc. of tasting hundreds of names meant to lure Internet users who mistype Web addresses. At one point, the lawsuit said, the misspelled featured ads for Target, Nordstrom and other rivals."
Now That's Medicine I Wouldn't Mind Taking. Reuters reports in "Feeding your brain: new benefits found in chocolate." From the article: "Funded by candy maker Mars Inc., which provided a specially formulated liquid cocoa concoction for the research, the studies suggest that flavanols increase blood flow to the brain and may hold promise for treating some vascular impairments."
Much Ado About a Bear of Very Little Brain. Reuters reports that "California judge lets family keep Winnie the Pooh." From the article: "In a written order issued on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper granted the Slesingers' motion to dismiss the case, in which the granddaughters of Pooh author A.A. Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard, sued to terminate the Slesingers' rights to the character and reassign them to Disney."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Are Art Prints Usually "Autographed"? Looks like Keith Urban has a pretty good claim. The AP reports that "Keith Urban files suit over Web address." From the article: "The Web site includes the statement: 'You have reached the site of Keith Urban. To those who don't know, oil painting is one of my hobbies.' It then directs viewers to a gallery of paintings and offers a limited edition of prints for sale [which prints are described as being "autographed]."

Monday, February 05, 2007

Interesting Resolution. Reuters reports that "Apple and Beatles settle trademark squabble." From the article: "The two companies said Apple Inc. would now own all the trademarks related to 'Apple' and would license certain trademarks back to Apple Corps for continued use."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It's About Time. Google Watch reports that Google Sues Leo Stoller for Racketeering. From the article: "Google's lawsuit, which comes after several years of legal wrangling with Stoller, after Stoller declared bankruptcy, and after Google was granted relief by the courts to pursue litigation, alleges that Stoller and his businesses are falsely claiming trademark rights for the purpose of harassing and attempting to extort money."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Thomas v. Scalia. That's a new one. The AP reports that "Court Rules in Favor of MedImmune."From the article: "MedImmune 'assuredly did contend that it had no obligation under the license to pay royalties on an invalid patent,' Scalia wrote. 'Promising to pay royalties on patents that have not been held invalid does not amount to a promise' not to contest the matter."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

One to Watch. Reuters reports that "U.S. group sues Nokia, Samsung over Bluetooth." From the article: "A U.S. research institute has sued Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Matsushita-owned Panasonic for violating a patent for Bluetooth technology, potentially putting the free wireless standard at risk."