Communications & Media Intellectual Property Constitutional Law

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Advertising Law - May 2016

Kanye's Promise of Exclusivity a Siren Song, Suit Says - Kanye West's latest drama involves the courtroom—specifically, a putative class action complaint alleging false advertising, unfair competition, and unjust...more

Fair Use Copyright Ruling Stands For Google Books

Last month, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., the long-running copyright case involving Google’s Google Books project. The high court’s refusal to hear the case leaves in place the Second...more

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

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

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

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

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

The Slants’ Trademark Application Remains in Purgatory as Federal Circuit Passes on Pushing PTO to Publish

Late last year, Simon Tam and his legal team scored a big-time victory: they convinced the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (sitting en banc) that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violated the First Amendment. The Court...more

Of Slants, Skins and Signs: No Relief For Trademark Applicant Until Supreme Court Weighs In

As part of our continuing monitoring of this issue, we bring you the latest chapter in the saga over the registration of THE SLANTS trademark. After the en banc Federal Circuit struck down Section 2(a) as facially...more

Ninth Circuit Retcons Its “Dancing Baby” Fair Use Decision and Creates More Confusion

Apparently, George Lucas is not the only party in California who can edit his own work after release in order to change aspects he does not like. While perhaps not as culturally significant as changing Star Wars: A New Hope...more

U.S. Supreme Court Punts on Dispute Involving NFL Players’ Publicity Rights

The Supreme Court passed on an opportunity to review a recent appellate court decision holding that a video game publisher is not protected by the First Amendment for using the likenesses of former NFL football stars in the...more

USPTO To Suspend New Trademark Applications Containing Scandalous Or Disparaging Material

On March 10, 2016, The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) issued new examination guidance for trademark applications containing potentially immoral or scandalous matter, which is expressly prohibited by...more

New Game Plan: Federal Circuit Decision May Revive “Redskins” Trademarks

Federal Circuit finds that barring the registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional, creating potential running room for the Washington Redskins. An appeal of the 2014 decision to cancel the REDSKINS...more

Trademark Review | February 2016

The Federal Circuit Considers Constitutionality of Refusal to Register Scandalous and Immoral Marks - The Lanham Act prohibits registration of marks that are defamatory, scandalous or immoral. Last month, in In re Tam,...more

Scandalous, Immoral And Disparaging Patents In Light Of Tam

The Federal Circuit sitting en banc recently held in Tam that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which prohibits the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from registering trademarks that “may disparage” persons, institutions, or...more

Trademark Wars: Fox’s “Empire” Strikes Back

In another episode involving the First Amendment and the Lanham Act, Twentieth Century Fox’s “Empire” notched a win for the First Amendment. In Twentieth Century Fox Television, et al. v. Empire Distribution Inc. the United...more

Intellectual Property Newsletter - January/February 2016

2015 U.S. Trademark Developments Every Food and Beverage Lawyer Should Know - In 2015, U.S. courts provided trademark practitioners with several issues to discuss and debate. Identified and summarized below are the top...more

Justice Scalia on Trademark and Copyright: Dastar, Penguin-Shaped Cocktail Shakers and “Guilt by Resemblance”

When we decided to mark the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia by recounting a few of his copyright and trademark opinions, we were somewhat surprised to discover that there really hadn’t been that many. In fact, we located...more

Disparagement Proscription of § 2(a) Is Unconstitutional - In re Simon Shiao Tam

In the last several decades, the disparagement provision of § 2(a) of the Lanham Act has become a more frequent basis for rejection or cancellation of trademarks by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and the...more

Federal Circuit Rejects Disparaging Trademarks’ Ban on First Amendment Grounds

A December ruling by the Federal Circuit emphasized the value of commercial speech through trademark registration, and the case may have implications for the Washington Redskins. The NFL team’s Super Bowl dreams may be over,...more

Naruto v. Slater - USDC, N.D. California, January 28, 2016

District court dismisses copyright infringement action brought on behalf of macaque monkey who took “selfies” using defendant photographer’s camera, holding that animals lack standing under the Copyright Act....more

2015 U.S. Trademark Developments Every Food and Beverage Lawyer Should Know

In 2015, U.S. courts provided trademark practitioners with several issues to discuss and debate. Identified and summarized below are the top five most discussed issues....more

Sue-per Bowl Shuffle II: The Year in NFL-Related Intellectual Property Litigation

Around this time last year, I started worrying about what would happen if someone at a Super Bowl party asked me to explain an NFL-related lawsuit, particularly one of those IP-ish lawsuits that I’m supposed to know about. So...more

2015 IP Law Year In Review

Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1920 (May 26, 2015) - ..Does a defendant’s belief that a patent is invalid serve as a defense to charges of inducing infringement? NO - ..Inducement requires...more

Trademark Review | January 2016

Federal Circuit Holds Refusal to Register Disparaging Trademarks is Unconstitutional - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, issued a ruling that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violates the...more

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