Communications & Media Intellectual Property

Read need-to-know updates, commentary, and analysis on Communications & Media issues written by leading professionals.
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Three Point Shot - May 2015

"Wild Thing" Forced to Tap Out in Battle against ESPN - Last month, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals forced former professional wrestler Steve "Wild Thing" Ray to tap out in his battle against ESPN by dismissing the...more

Counterfeiting – Bad Business for E-Commerce Websites

Everyone knows that counterfeiting is bad business for brands – it weakens consumer confidence and brand loyalty, erodes goodwill, and creates liability issues -- but this month online retailer Etsy learned that...more

False Advertising Bombs and Firecrackers

On May 13, 2015, in Conopco, Inc. v. Wells Enterprises, Inc., the Southern District of New York denied a motion to dismiss a claim for false advertising which arose from a claim that an ice-pop product was “original.” Wells...more

.sucks Launch Delayed and Sunrise Registration Extended

The launch of the new gTLD .sucks has been delayed by the registry. This is potentially good news for trademark owners, who now have until June 18 at 5:00 pm PST to register .sucks domain names during the Sunrise registration...more

Richard Prince’s Instagram Art: Do You Know Where Your Face Is?

Social media, it seems, has turned us all into photographers. Anyone with a Facebook page, an Instagram account or any of the other methods for socializing on the web, can post original photos for all the world to see,...more

MarkIt to Market - May 2015

The May issue of Sterne Kessler's MarkIt to MarketTM newsletter covers the negative impact of counterfeiting on e-commerce websites, recent changes in Russian trademark law, and an updated list of the Sunrise periods...more

Does your brand occupy the field? Check-the-box versus strategic planning

Protecting your brand through a federal trademark registration is a straightforward and appropriate step that almost every business should take. In fact, for many businesses a strong brand may be their single most valuable...more

Food Packaging Trademarks: It’s in the Bag?

Welcome to another edition of non-traditional trademarks in connection with package designs: The Billy Goat Chip Company contends it owns exclusive rights in a protectable and distinctive trademark for the appearance...more

Other Peoples’ (Adult) Content (Episode 15)

There are so many legal issues in Episode 15 that it’s hard to know where to begin, so I’m going to start at the end: porn. Pied Piper is competing against nemesis Endframe for a $15 million contract from the online porn...more

Offering of Services Alone Insufficient Basis for § 1(a) Trademark Application - David Couture v. Playdom, Inc.

Addressing for the first time whether the offering of a service was sufficient “use in commerce” under the Lanham Act, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB)...more

Aspects of Private Social Media Groups May Be Protectable Under Illinois Trade Secret Law

In Illinois federal court, a plaintiff alleged aspects of their LinkedIn group were trade secrets misappropriated by the defendant. The defendant moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The court denied the motion in...more

Trademark Review | May 2015

Attorneys’ Fees Might be More Readily Granted in Trademark Cases - Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court relaxed the standard for awarding attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party in patent infringement cases. Octane...more

Advertising Law - May 2015 #4

SPECIAL FOCUS: The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Octane Fitness Decision on Lanham Act Litigation - For the second time in recent years, a Supreme Court decision in a patent case is having a major impact on Lanham Act...more

Why you must monitor for conflicting brands

Trademark rights in the U.S. are based on use — on actually selling goods and services in connection with a trademark. However, most businesses understand that obtaining a federal trademark registration at the U.S. Patent and...more

Instagram for Sale: Artist Richard Prince’s New Portraits Sparks Controversy

In the past week, several news outlets and social media channels have been buzzing about artist Richard Prince’s exhibit New Portraits, which first debuted at the Gagosian Gallery on September 19, 2014 and was reborn with...more

Meet Batman’s New (Trademark) Nemesis: Rihanna

After making (and remaking (and re-remaking)) movies, sequels, and prequels for nearly every comic book character in its library, it appears that DC Comics has finally found a new foe for its Batman franchise: music and...more

News Flash – Oracle v. Google Copyright Case

In its brief filed on May 26, 2015, the US Solicitor General (SG) advised the US Supreme Court to not hear Google’s appeal of a decision, from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, holding that copyright protection...more

The First Amendment Trumps Trademark Rights in Radiance Found, Inc. v. NAACP

When a pro-life columnist publicized a biting article criticizing the NAACP’s stance on abortion rights, the NAACP retaliated with a cease and desist letter accusing the columnist of trademark infringement. When the dust...more

Pretzel Logic: Federal Circuit holds that TTAB Failed to Consider Mark as a Whole

An application to register PRETZEL CRISPS as a mark will live another day, thanks to a Federal Circuit opinion reversing a TTAB decision that had canceled the mark on grounds of genericness....more

TV Catchup and Section 73 – (Nearly) The End of the Road?

The Court of Appeal in England has recently made a second reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the case brought by UK free-to-air broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 against the Internet...more

Supreme Court Holds that Issue Preclusion May Apply to TTAB Decisions

In a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court held on March 24, 2015, that issue preclusion may apply to Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) decisions. The case, B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries,...more

Garcia v. Google Inc. - USCA, Ninth Circuit, May 18, 2015

Ninth Circuit sitting en banc reverses 2-1 panel decision that required Google to remove anti-Islam video from YouTube based on actor’s claim of copyright in her five-second appearance, holding that “a weak copyright claim...more

Supreme Court Holds That "Good Faith" Belief in Patent Invalidity is No Defense to Induced Infringement

The U.S. Supreme Court today in Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc. ruled that a "good faith" belief that a patent is invalid was not a defense to a claim of induced infringement. Reversing the Federal Circuit, the Court...more

Trivial Thoughts on Substantial Parts

What constitutes a “substantial part” of a copyrighted work is an endlessly diverting question – both because copyright law tends not to draw “bright lines” (meaning that lawyers are forever doomed to conducting...more

Apple v. Samsung: Trade Dress Functionality and Total Profits without Apportionment

The highly publicized Apple v. Samsung litigation saga began in April 2011 when Samsung alleged various infringements of patents and trade dress related to Apple’s iPhone. A jury awarded more than $1 billion in damages. In a...more

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