BLURRED LINES IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

The jury has spoken in the Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement case, finding that the song infringes the copyright on Marvin Gaye’s 1977 “Got to Give it Up” and awarding the Gaye estate  over 7 million dollars in damages. The case has been framed by music industry talking heads and the press as one…

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CEASE & DESIST LETTERS FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE – OLD BLOOD & GUTS EDITION

Here is a marketing conundrum. How do you brand a $575,000 specialty vehicle, built on a Ford truck chassis, that is designed to look like a tank? If you answered “Name it after General George S. Patton” give yourself a 21-gun salute. But here’s the rub—in one of the most astute tactical moves of his storied military career, Patton…

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A BFD INDEED: FLO & EDDIE HIT PAYDIRT

Last year the corporate alter ego of former Turtles frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman—Flo & Eddie, Inc.—filed a class action lawsuit against Sirius XM. Their claim is that pre-1972 sound recordings, such as the Turtles’s classics “Happy Together” and “Eleanore,” which have no federal copyright protection, are nonetheless protected against unauthorized use under California state law. In…

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SOME PUSHBACK ON TRANSFORMATIVE USE

A recurring theme in our posts under the “Fair Use” tag has been the rise of “transformative use” as a litmus test that not only supplements, but often virtually supplants, the  four statutory fair use factors—the purpose and character of the secondary use, the nature of the original work, the amount of the original used, and the…

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MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO

We will likely never know whether a monkey, put in a room with typewriter and given sufficient time, will actually type out Hamlet, but we do know now that a monkey given a camera can take a pretty good selfie. Wildlife photographer David Slater found this out when, during a shoot in Indonesia, a crested black macaque stole…

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SUPREME COURT SHUTS DOWN AEREO

A few weeks ago, in writing about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Petrella v. MGM, in a post entitled “The Breyer Ascendancy Deferred,” I hazarded a fearless prediction: I am wagering that Justice Breyer will, despite this setback, be voting with and perhaps writing for the majorities in the two most important IP cases coming…

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THE WASHINGTON PRO FOOTBALL FRANCHISE

As has been widely reported, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has ruled that “redskins” is deeply offensive slur and can not be federally registered as a trademark under 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), which prohibits registration of marks that contain “immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living…

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CONAN DOYLE ESTATE DOWN FOR THE COUNT

We have been following the rather swift progress through the courts of Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate, a case which raises the fascinating question of when copyright protection on “franchise” literary characters who develop over a series of works, published over a period of many years, expires. Klinger, the editor of books containing original stories based on the Sherlock…

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THE BREYER ASCENDANCY DEFERRED

In some earlier posts (titled The Breyer Ascendancy and the The Breyer Ascendancy, Part II) I have suggested that we may have  reached an inflection point where Justice Breyer is no longer just the Supreme Court’s leading skeptic on intellectual property protection, but where he is primed to lead his colleagues in a major retrenchment of IP protections.  Though I…

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SPLISH-SPLASH, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST

It has been almost 25 years since Laramie, a small Philadelphia-based purveyor of “rack” (read “knockoff”) toys switched roles and scored an enormous hit with its TV-advertised, patented, and SUPER SOAKER® branded line of air pressure water guns. As Laramie’s chief intellectual property enforcer at the time, I remember well several frenetic years of legal…

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