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Category Archives: Copyrights

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Intellectual Property Law Ruins the Party, Again

Posted in Copyrights, Goodwill, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks

Video games offer a melting pot of intellectual property: trademark law, copyright law, and even patent law all come together in a delicious mix of intangible property. However, not all video game franchises are equal. Few can claim the same level of longevity, success, and nostalgia as Nintendo’s Mario Brothers series. Among the most popular… Continue Reading

This is Not the Statue You’re Looking For: The Post Office’s $3.5 Million Copyright Mistake

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Infringement, Law Suits

  Earlier this month, the United States Postal Service (USPS) was ordered to pay $3.5 million in damages to a sculptor for copyright infringement. Seeking a unique redesign for its “Forever” stamps, the USPS searched stock photos for images of the Statue of Liberty.  They found a particularly striking photo on Getty Images and paid… Continue Reading

Copyright Law on Embedded Images Gets Blurrier – Goldman v. Breitbart

Posted in Copyrights

A few months ago, a federal district court in New York held that several publishers violated a photographer’s copyright when they embedded a photograph from one of the photographer’s Twitter posts. Goldman v. Breitbart News Network, No. 17-CV-3144 (KBF) (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 15, 2018). The photographer, Justin Goldman, had sued Breitbart News Network, TIME Inc., The Boston… Continue Reading

What Will Happen To The New Prince Songs

Posted in Audio, Copyrights, Famous Marks, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits

There is a battle brewing over songs by Minnesota’s own Prince.  I, for one, am anxious for the dispute to be resolved so we can enjoy these recordings. Who knows, there may be another worldwide hit “Purple Rain” out there. The initial lawsuit was brought by Prince’s company Paisley Park Enterprises, which is now owned… Continue Reading

Tattoo Artists’ IP Rights Only Skin-Deep

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts

  WWE wrestler Randy Orton has some unique ink on his arms and back, created by tattoo artist Catherine Alexander.  Orton—and his tattoos—are featured in the WWE 2K video games.  Alexander claims ownership of copyright in the tattoos, and is suing WWE and the makers of the video games for their depiction of the original… Continue Reading

Lawsuit Verdict Makes Grumpy Cat Smile

Posted in Contracts, Copyrights, Dilution, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Trademarks

For anyone unfamiliar with internet cat personalities, Grumpy Cat is a well-known feline whose dwarfism and underbite culminate in a perpetual—and adorable—sour expression.  Grumpy Cat’s real name is Tardar Sauce.  In 2012, when Tardar Sauce was only a few months old, she became an internet sensation after a photo of her endearing scowl was posted… Continue Reading

Beer Brand Battles: David Takes on City Hall (with Goliath on the sidelines)

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Food, Infringement, Trademarks, USPTO

The City of Portland is known as a hub for craft beer, and its local government couldn’t be prouder. The Travel Portland website proudly proclaims that Portland is “home to more breweries than any other city on earth.” Yet the city’s relationship with the local craft beer scene is not so bubbly at the moment,… Continue Reading

Forget Prince; Minnesota Opens Courts to Hulk Hogans of the World with Revenge Porn Civil Action

Posted in Copyrights, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts

Recently, I attended the University of Minnesota’s celebration of “40 Years of Gopher Justice,” an event honoring the institution’s University Student Legal Service (“USLS”), a non-profit organization that provides UMN students with free legal services. The celebration included a panel on a contemporary topic in student advocacy: “revenge porn.” The topic isn’t relevant just for… Continue Reading

“Let’s Play:” DMCA Takedown Notices and Game Developer Acquiescence

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Infringement, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Technology

There is an entire gaming sub-culture developed around watching others play video games.  I’m not talking about gathering around the Game Cube in your friend’s basement and passing the only controller.  “Let’s Play” videos are game play videos made by players and posted or streamed online.  The videos usually include the players’ own running commentary,… Continue Reading

The Five-Finger Copyright Discount

Posted in Audio, Copyrights, Fair Use, False Advertising, Guest Bloggers, Infringement, International, Loss of Rights, Social Media

–James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications Recently violinists Rhett Price and Shiva Chaitoo got two very different lessons on the downside of posting performances on the Internet. According to an article in The Boston Globe, a fan of Price alerted him to a video of Chaitoo’s playing. Turns out, Chaitoo was pulling a Milli Vanilli, fingering his… Continue Reading

Federal Trademark Registration, the First Amendment, and Freedom of Speech: Part II

Posted in Articles, Copyrights, Dilution, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Trademarks, USPTO

As the drum roll proceeds to the upcoming Midwest IP Institute in Minneapolis and sharing the podium with Joel MacMull of the Archer firm (and Simon Tam fame) on Thursday September 28, in a few days, I’ll be making a stop south of the border, at the University of Iowa College of Law, where it… Continue Reading

Joint IP Ownership Rights

Posted in Agreements, Almost Advice, Contracts, Copyrights, Genericide, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Trademarks

New ideas, creations, and business ventures are often the product of collaboration.  If lawyers had their way, a written agreement would precede every creative collaboration.  Of course, this is not the case.  Collaborators often do not seek advice of counsel, or see the need for an agreement, until after the new idea, creation, or venture… Continue Reading

Did U2’s Bono And The Edge Copy Their Song The Fly From Another Artist?

Posted in Audio, Copyrights, Infringement, Law Suits

This is the question being presented in a lawsuit pending in the Southern District of New York against the iconic band U2 and a majority of its band mates.  Paul David Hewson (more well known as lead singer Bono), David Howell Evans (more well known as guitarist extraordinaire the Edge), drummer Laurence Joseph Mullen Jr.,… Continue Reading

Blizzard v. Bossland: Game Over for Video Game Botting?

Posted in Civil Procedure, Copyrights, Infringement, International, Law Suits

I’m a rules follower. Going back to the days of the Game Genie—a device that allowed gamers to play Super Mario Bros. with infinite lives or the Legend of Zelda with infinite bombs—I have always preferred the satisfaction of beating the game by its own rules.   Like the video games that have progressed since… Continue Reading

Help! Someone Copied My Stuff!

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Infringement

At some point in this digital age, almost every individual or business in the creative space will discover that somebody has copied them. You may see it yourself, or you may get the stomach-dropping “Doesn’t this look an awful lot like…..” e-mail from a friend. It might be that potential client who said your design… Continue Reading

Pass the…Creative Work

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Copyrights, Famous Marks, Genericide, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits

I laughed when I saw yesterday’s Adweek article about Heinz adopting Don Draper’s “Pass the Heinz” pitch from the hit show “Mad Men.”  Given the lackluster creativity observed from the Super Bowl ads, have we actually reached a point where a creative says “hey remember that Mad Men episode? let’s just do that!” and the… Continue Reading

McCarthy Institute Trademark Seminar 2017

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

One of the current challenges in trademark law addressed in Seattle last week at the Amazon Corporate Conference Center, host of the 2017 McCarthy Institute and Microsoft Corporation Symposium, is an issue we have discussed quite a bit here, namely Trademark Disparagement and the First Amendment. The panel to discuss this weighty topic included the… Continue Reading

Who Will Own New Designs in a Jetsons-like Era?

Posted in Agreements, Copyrights, Idea Protection, Patents, Squirrelly Thoughts, USPTO

While on my flight back from speaking on trademarks & the alcohol industry at this year’s CiderCon, I listened to a fascinating TedTalks podcast on advancements in artificial intelligence that you can find here.  Some of the examples of the progress made in robots included the concept of open-ended, non-linear “generative” thinking by advanced AI… Continue Reading

Second Circuit Agrees: Louis Vuitton Can’t Take a Joke

Posted in Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Fashion, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying

If you’re still looking for holiday gift for that special someone, the Second Circuit has your back. Fresh off the docket, the Second Circuit gave its blessing to My Other Bag’s line of parody canvas tote bags. For additional background, you can read our discussion of the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the… Continue Reading