Communications & Media Intellectual Property Civil Procedure

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Of Slants, Skins And Signs: The March To The Supreme Court

This week saw developments in the two cases challenging the application of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act to their registration: In re Tam and Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc....more

Trademark Series: Confusion (Part 2)

By Richard Stobbe So much confusion, so little time. The Trade-marks Act teaches us that the use of one trade-mark causes confusion with another trade-mark if the use of both trade-marks in the same area would likely lead to...more

Panera and Great Harvest Argue over Tagline

Panera Bread and the Great Harvest Bread Co. will not be breaking bread together anytime soon. To the contrary, Great Harvest recently filed a trademark lawsuit against Panera over Panera’s “food as it should be” campaign,...more

The Slants and the Future of Disparaging Trademarks

Trademark and copyright law are in a constant struggle with the right of free expression guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This is unavoidable. Copyright laws were enacted to protect authors of...more

Google Books Survives Legal Challenge - Supreme Court Declines to Address Book-Digitization Project

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari over a Second Circuit decision (Authors’ Guild v. Google Inc.) affirming that Google’s project of digitizing, and making available online for searching, tens of millions of...more

Pro Football Calls SCOTUS Audible

As we noted here last week, the Director of the USPTO filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that it review the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision, In re Tam. That decision held Section...more

The Right of Publicity: How Much Control Do NFL Players Have Over Their Names?

How much control should athletes have over their names? Not an unlimited amount, according to one recent court ruling. Late last month, in Dryer v. National Football League, the Eighth Circuit denied an appeal by three...more

Hyperlinking to unauthorised content does not itself constitute copyright infringement, says Advocate General

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has stated in a legal opinion that posting a link to a website that contains “freely accessible” copyright infringing content should not itself amount to copyright...more

In re Tam Redux: The PTO seeks Certiorari

On April 20, 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Federal Circuit seeking Supreme Court review of that Court’s decision in In re Tam, 117 USPQ2d 1001...more

Apple’s Quest for the “Ownable” Mark

No company’s branding strategy is studied more meticulously than Apple, Inc.’s — and of late, Apple has taken a turn for the descriptive with its various operating systems. Every company wants its brands to be...more

USPTO to SCOTUS: SOS on the Lanham Act ASAP

On April 20, 2016, the USPTO made it official: It formally requested the U.S. Supreme Court to review the en banc Federal Circuit decision that held Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violated the First Amendment. At issue...more

Central District of California Holds That the California Resale Royalty Act Is Preempted by Federal Copyright Law

As previously discussed on this blog, the validity of the California Resale Royalty Act (the “RRA,” Civil Code Section 986), a 1976 law that requires resellers of fine art to pay a royalty of 5 percent to the artists behind...more

Who Should Own a Trademark Registration? The Case of the Not-So-Related Parent Company

A recent precedential Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision provides valuable guidance on the proper allocation of trademark registration ownership as between a corporate parent and a subsidiary, highlighting the perils...more

What’s That Sound? It Might Just Be a Trademark.

Trademarks are not only words or logos, but can come in many other forms, including sounds. In the words of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in the case In re Gen. Electric Broad. Co., 199 USPQ 560, 563 (TTAB 1978),...more

FLANAX: Protecting Foreign Marks from US Unfair Competition Under Section 43(a)

In today’s increasingly global economy, trademark owners are more frequently butting up against the territorial limitations of trademark law. It has long been a matter of black letter law that trademark rights are...more

Intellectual Property Risks With School And Teacher Websites

Teachers and school districts continue to find new ways to use technology both in and out of the classroom. For example, it is becoming more and more common for teachers to launch their own classroom websites. ...more

Federal Judge vs. TTAB – Trademark Battle over Bear Bryant’s Houndstooth Hat

The case of The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and Paul W. Bryant, Jr. v. Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises LLC et al. showcases an unusual clash between a federal judge and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board...more

Although Healthy Hemp May do Many Things, It Does Not Function As a Trademark

In a non-precedential decision in In re French Meadow Organic Bakery LLC, Serial No 86243820 (February 4 2016), the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) held that HEALTHY HEMP was merely descriptive of “bakery goods;...more

Trademark Series: Deviations!

The adage “use it or lose it” captures the essence of the ongoing requirement to put a trademark into commercial use. If you abandon your mark, you effectively give up your trademark rights. The corollary is to “use it as...more

Judge Restricts Research Into Potential Jurors

The Federal Judge assigned to the copyright lawsuit Google Inc. against Oracle Corporation had taken a traditional approach in jury selection. U.S. District Judge William Alrup rejected the proposed jury questionnaire,...more

District Court Asks Google and Oracle to Consent to Ban on Internet Research of Jury Panel

Following up on the district court's previous ruling barring the use of jury questionnaires, the district court addressed the issue of whether any Internet research of the potential jurors should be permitted. After analyzing...more

Context Is Everything: Evaluating Different Approaches Toward Attorneys’ Fees Awards Under Copyright Act in Light of Supreme Court...

The Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments on standards for awarding attorneys’ fees to the winner of a copyright dispute. Currently there are at least three different test being applied by federal courts. Data analysis...more

News of Note in IP

Each week, Sheppard Mullin brings you News of Note in IP: The latest news in the IP-related fields of technology, privacy, fashion, advertising, music, and social media, curated by our IP team.  Here are some of the stories...more

Friend Request Denied: Judge Asks Attorneys to Refrain from Social Media Searches of Jurors

In late March 2016, a California federal judge asked both Google, Inc. and Oracle America, Inc. to voluntarily consent to a ban against Internet and social media research on empaneled or prospective jurors until the...more

Presumptions Can Apply in Inter Partes PTAB Proceedings - PPC Broadband, Inc. v. Corning Optical Commc’n RF, LLC

Addressing issues of claim construction and obviousness, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed, vacated and remanded in part the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s or Board’s) obviousness conclusion,...more

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