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Louis Vuitton Clashes Over “Hangover 2”

10 Apr

In 2011, Louis Vuitton successfully brought suit against Hyundai claiming that a one second glimpse of a basketball which closely resembled the well known trademark.  Recently, the French designer brought suit against Warner Brothers regarding “The Hangover II”.  It is alleged in that Warner Brothers infringed and diluted the mark “by showing, for one brief moment in the movie, Zach Galifianakis telling someone who pushes his bag, ‘Be careful, that is … that is a Lewis Vuitton.'”

The full article may be found at this link.

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Second Legal Blow to Google in Two Weeks

10 Apr

Credit: Google, Inc.

Google suffers its second legal setback in two weeks.  First, last week the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit revived Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against Google’s YouTube video site. (See our earlier blog post about Viacom’s lawsuit, Viacom Battle with YouTube Continues).  Then on Monday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated part of an earlier court decision dismissing a trademark infringement lawsuit filed against the Internet-search company by Rosetta Stone.  The court revived claims that Google directly infringed on Rosetta Stone’s trademark and diluted the Rosetta Stone brand.

In a lawsuit filed in 2009, Rosetta Stone accused Google of committing trademark infringement by selling the language-software maker’s trademarks to third-party advertisers for use as search keywords.  Google sells advertisers the rights to use certain words or phrases as keywords for the paid ads, known as sponsored links, on search result pages.  Users are directed to the advertiser’s sites via the links and Rosetta Stone argued customers searching for its language learning software on Google were redirected to competitors and software copycats.  The keywords that Google sold to other businesses included “Rosetta Stone” and “Rosettastone.com.”  In 2010 a Virginia District Court dismissed the case finding there was no likelihood of confusion to consumers from the sale of the keywords.

More information can be found at this article from MSNBC.

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Entertainment Law Class Blogs Receive Recognition from Law School

9 Apr

Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania recently published an article on the school’s website about the entertainment law class of Professor Tonya Evans.  Students in the class are divided into five law firms with the firms maintaining their own blog about current hot topics in the entertainment industry.  Each firm has developed their own identity by using Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.  The law firms, in addition to ChickChat, include: Creative Protection, Dumas Firm, The Mentally In Firm, and wRAP jhAM.

The article, written by Erica Scavone of the class law firm, Dumas Firm LLP, can be found at this link.  Professor Evans has also blogged about the law firms as well.

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Viacom Battle with YouTube Continues

6 Apr

Credit: Viacom/YouTube

In 2007, Viacom sued YouTube for $1 billion alleging the site allowed users to post copyrighted Viacom content without permission between 2005 and 2008, including content from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”  In 2010 a District Court judge granted summary judgment to YouTube and ruled YouTube was protected from the infringement claims under a “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  The District Court judge ruled YouTube was protected under the safe harbors of the DMCA because there was not enough notice of the individual infringements.  Recently the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court.  The courts opinion stated:

“We conclude that the District Court correctly held that the 512(c) safe harbor requires knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity, but we vacate the order granting summary judgment because a reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website.”

This remand gives Viacom a second chance to prove the copyright infringement claims against YouTube.  It continues the ongoing battle between entertainment companies and Web entrepreneurs over ‘user-generated content’ sites.

The full article from the Los Angeles Times can be found at this link.  An additional article from Fox News can be found at this link.

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USPTO Publishes Neil Young’s Trademarks for Audio Format Alternative to MP3’s

4 Apr

In June 2011 Neil Young filed six trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Those trademarks were:  Ivanhoe, 21st Century Record Player, Earth Storage, Storage Shed, Thanks for Listening and SQS (Studio Quality Sound).  The filed documents described the trademarks as:

“Audio and video recordings featuring music and artistic performances; high resolution music downloadable from the internet; high resolutions discs featuring music and video of music and artistic performances; pre-recorded digital media containing audio and video recordings featuring music and artistic performances for storage and playback.”

As well as “online and retail store services featuring music and artistic performances, high resolution music downloadable from the internet, high resolutions discs featuring music and video, and pre-recorded digital media featuring audio and video recordings for storage and playback.”

Continue reading

Sony Sued by Weird Al Yankovic for Underpayment of Digital Royalties

3 Apr

Sony Music Entertainment has been sued yet again for underpayment of royalties (see our earlier post entitled Sony Sued by Toto Over Unpaid Online Royalty Payments).  Parody singer Weird Al Yankovic recently filed a $5 million lawsuit against Sony alleging Sony is not paying 50% of revenues per licensing deals as the parties agreed but is instead paying a straight royalty for download sales.  In addition to his underpayment of digital royalties claim, Yankovic also alleges Sony did not give him any money from Sony’s settlements with peer-to-peer music sharing sites  Napster, Kazaa and Grokster.

“The lawsuit filed in Federal court in the Southern District of New York follows a recent federal class action suit against Warner Music Group by band Tower of Power that makes similar claims of underpayment of royalties.

Both Yankovic’s suit and Tower of Power’s class action rely on the famous 2010 appellate ruling involving Eminem. Similarly, the rapper sued his record label, Universal Music Group, for the way royalties are calculated for digital music — whether they are considered a license or a sale.

Ultimately, the court found that digital music should be treated as a license. Like most artists, Eminem signed a contract that specifies he receives 50 percent of royalties for a license as compared to 12 percent for a sale. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the lower court’s decision, so the 2010 appellate ruling stands as the precedent in cases regarding digital royalties.”

To view the full article from The Huffington Post, follow this link.

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Beatles Prevail Over Dutch “Mobility”

29 Mar

The Beatles have successfully prevented a Dutch manufacturer from selling a Beatles inspired wheelchair.  The court found that this attempt to use this trademark is “inconceivable that consumers would be led to transfer in their minds a Beatle wheelchair with the goodwill of The Beatles, whose image is ‘even after 50 years of existence, still synonymous with youth and a certain counter-culture of the 1960s, an image which is still positive and which could specifically benefit the goods covered by the mark.'”

The full article can be found at this link.

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More Universities Dispute—And Win—In .xxx Arbitrations

29 Mar

On Tuesday, March 27, XBiz announced that both Baylor University and University of Texas have won arbitration suits granting them control over the .xxx top-level domain names purchased and connected to their schools.  A judge said that “BaylorGirls.xxx” and “UTSystem.xxx” belong to the universities, because the registrant (who was not associated with the universities) obtained the sites and refused the schools to purchase them out of bad faith.  As evidence of the registrant’s bad faith, the universities showed evidence that the registrant accessed information attempting to find if sites such as “PennStateGirls.xxx,” “ClemsonGirls.xxx,” and “NYUGirls.xxx” were available for purchase.

These arbitrations are a continuance of the already heavily disputed .xxx top-level domain name distribution across the entire Internet.  According to the article, “out of 17 .XXX UDRP cases filed so far, eight cases have been resolved by arbitrators — all in favor of complainants.”  The article continued by stating that “[t]he victories keep mounting for .XXX complainants in the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy, or UDRP, cases, particularly since nearly all of the cases involve non-adult companies purchasing mainstream brands.”

To view the full article from XBiz, follow this link.  For more information on the .xxx top-level domain name controversy, follow this link from Wired.

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Tebow Mania TRO’d

29 Mar

An order issued Wednesday evening will now temporarily restrain Reebok International Inc. from selling any apparel that bears the “Tebow” trademark name, leaving Nike Inc. with exclusive control over the product.

“The order issued late Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel prevents Reebok from manufacturing, selling and shipping the alleged unauthorized apparel for the National Football League team and bearing Tebow’s name.  It also requires Reebok to offer to buy back such apparel from retailers, and recall the products from shipping channels.  The judge set an April 4 hearing to discuss whether the ban should be extended.”

The full article can be found at this link.

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“Dances With Wolves” Actor Kevin Costner in Dispute Over Bison Sculptures

28 Mar

The South Dakota Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case involving actor-director Kevin Costner.  Last year artist Peggy Detmers sued Costner alleging  he breached a contract the parties had entered into for the commission of 17 bronze sculptures depicting buffalo and Native Americans.  The parties entered into the contract in 2000 under which Costner intended to display the sculptures at a South Dakota resort, The Dunbar, named after his character in the movie “Dances With Wolves.”  If the resort was not completed, the parties agreed to placement of the sculptures at a mutually agreeable location.  The resort was never built and Costner placed the sculptures near Dearwood at his Tatanka attraction.

Detmers alleged the placement of the sculptures at Tatanka was not a mutually agreeable location and therefore Costner breached their contract.  She argues that Costner should have to sell the sculptures and give her 50% of the proceeds.  Last year a circuit judge ruled the alternative placement did not constitute a breach of contract and the case is now before the South Dakota Supreme Court. Continue reading

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