Generic Fair Use

... where pop culture meets intellectual property law

Month: November 2015 (page 2 of 2)

Laches (Copyright) is Dead! Long Live Laches (Patent)!

[originally published October 2, 2015 on www.law-dlc.com]

In 2014, the United States Supreme Court effectively killed a long-standing affirmative defense to copyright infringement, the defense of “laches.”  See Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 134 S. Ct. 1962 (U.S. 2014).  Laches is essentially an alleged infringer’s defense to a “gotcha!” tactic by a rights holder who has delayed for many years in bringing suit to enforce those purported rights.  Laches is based on equitable principles that a substantially long delay in enforcing legal rights is likely to prejudice the adverse party.[1]  It is the judicial system’s way of saying “hey! That’s not fair!  We are not going to let you do that.”  Laches is available as a defense in many types of proceedings, not just intellectual property matters, but the intangible nature of IP rights lends itself more favorably to successfully invoking “laches” as a defense.

Continue reading

What if Intellectual Property Rights Were Enforced in the World of “The Princess Bride”?

[originally published September 25, 2015 on www.law-dlc.com]

Have you ever watched a movie and wondered whether something cool in it could be patented?  Many movies, however, are set outside the United States.  Some are set in fantasy lands that would not recognize our system of laws.  Yet – what if?  What if, for example, the mythical country of Florin happened to adopt the laws of the United States as it applies to intellectual property rights?  Yes, Florin.  The homeland of Buttercup.  You know – The Princess Bride. What if the cowardly Prince Humperdinck recognized and enforced patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret concepts as seen in that movie?  Inconceivable, you say?  But what would that look like and what would be some examples?

[If you have never seen The Princess Bride, kindly stop reading and go watch it.  Now.  I do not think I can be friends with anyone who does not like this movie.]

I will skip the kissing parts and go right into the action and adventure.  Pirates are cool, right?  To the land of Florin we go!

Continue reading

How Was “Happy Birthday” Still Protected as a Copyright?

[originally posted September 23, 2015 at www.law-dlc.com]

By now it is likely you have seen the news story.  On Tuesday, September 22, 2015, Judge George H. King, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, ruled that Warner/Chappell, the publishing arm of Warner Music, did not have the right to enforce its claims in the copyright for the ubiquitous lyrics to the song “Happy Birthday.”  The legal implications are that the song lyrics may be in the public domain and free to use by all.

The question many of you likely also have is “how was ‘Happy Birthday’ still subject to a copyright after all these years?”  It can be somewhat complicated.

Continue reading

Not Even Rick Ross is Allowed to Copyright a Word or Phrase

[originally published September 18, 2015 on www.law-dlc.com]

In January 2014, Rick Ross sued LMFAO for copyright infringement over their use of lyrics from their song “Party Rock Anthem.” In particular, Ross claims that LMFAO are infringing on his copyright in the phrase “Everyday I’m hustlin’” which is a phrase Ross claims originally appeared in his song “Hustlin’.” LMFAO modified the lyric to “Everyday I’m shufflin’” and also began selling t–shirts and clothing bearing the same phrase. Rick Ross apparently was not amused by this apparent derivative work.

Continue reading

Top Three Differences Between Copyrights and Trademarks

[originally published September 10, 2015 at www.law-dlc.com]

The term “intellectual property” is commonly used to describe creative works such as inventions, music, movies, art, technical know-how and other intangible products. Unfortunately, the various types of intellectual property can often be confusing or difficult to categorize. For example, it is not uncommon to see a reference to a word or slogan being “copyrighted” when in fact, the correct term of art is “trademark.” Likewise, I am often asked in my practice to help clients “patent” their business or trade name.

There are four major types of intellectual property (IP) rights: patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Each category has unique characteristics that distinguish it from the other types of IP rights.

Accordingly, as a short-hand guide, here are some key differences between trademarks and copyrights under United States law.

Continue reading

Clearing Up a Public Misconception About the “Washington Redskins™”

[originally published September 10, 2015 at www.law-dlc.com]

The federally-registered trademark for the “Washington Redskins” has been under attack since 1992. On June 18, 2014, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) voted to cancel six marks held by the organization on grounds that “Redskins” was disparaging.

This vote was upheld on appeal on July 8, 2015 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. As of today, the federal registrations for “Washington Redskins” have been cancelled.

Continue reading

Newer posts »

© 2021 Generic Fair Use

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑