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‘The Autumn Wind’ and the Right of Publicity

As a child of the 60’s and 70’s and an insatiable NFL football fan, I can still hear the swaggering voice of narrator John Facenda in the now-iconic 1974 NFL Films production “The Autumn Wind,” which has been dubbed The...more

Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Axanar Productions, Inc. - USDC, C.D. California, May 9, 2016

District court denies motion to dismiss copyright infringement claims against producers of unauthorized “Star Trek” films that incorporate numerous elements of famous motion picture and television franchise, including Klingon...more

A Hail Mary to the U.S. Supreme Court? Owner of REDSKINS Marks Petitions for Hearing on Constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the...

Pro-Football, Inc., the owner of multiple U.S. service mark registrations for REDSKINS, REDSKINETTES, and WASHINGTON REDSKINS, took the somewhat unusual step last week of petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of...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

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

California Resale Royalty Act Claims Dismissed as Preempted by Copyright Law, Despite 1980 Ninth Circuit Holding to the Contrary

Just three months after the Supreme Court denied certiorari review of last year’s Ninth Circuit decision finding California’s Resale Royalty Act unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause in part—but also valid in...more

In re Tam: Still No Trademark Registration for The Slants

In the continuing saga of whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment, the rock band The Slants will have to wait a little longer before it knows whether it can register...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

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

Former NFL Players’ Right of Publicity Claims Get Sidelined—Will We Hear From The Replay Officials?   

In Dryer v. The National Football League, three former gridiron gladiators who played in the NFL had their claims for right of publicity under state law tossed out by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. These three players...more

Eighth Circuit Tells Former NFL Players: Your Right Of Publicity Claims Are Preempted By The Copyright Act

The Eighth Circuit recently rejected three former NFL players’ appeal of a district court’s dismissal of their right of publicity claims, among other claims. John Frederick Dryer, Elvin Lamont Bethea, and Edward Alvin White...more

8th Circuit Finds Copyright Act Preempts State Right Of Publicity Of Professional Athletes

In a recent case, Dryer v. Nat’l Football League, No. 14-3428, 2016 WL 761178 (8th Cir. Feb. 26, 2016), former National Football League (“NFL”) players (the “Players”) sued the NFL over the use of their name, image, voice,...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

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

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 Decision Signals Game Not Over for Washington Redskins Trademark

In a decision that should bring some comfort to the fans of the Washington Redskins football team, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in In Re Simon Shiao Tam declared unconstitutional Section 2(a) of the Lanham...more

That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles – Court Grants Motion for Summary Judgment in Favor of “Empire” TV Series

On February 1, 2016, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson ruled that Twentieth Century Fox Television’s (“Fox’s”) use of the term “Empire” in the network’s hit TV series was protected by the First Amendment. Judge Anderson...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

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