Public Domain

News & Analysis as of

We Shall Overcome Foundation v. The Richmond Organization, Inc. - USDC, S.D. New York, November 21, 2016

In dispute over whether civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” is in public domain, district court refuses to dismiss copyright infringement claims on motion to dismiss, holding plaintiffs plausibly alleged (1) defendants’...more

Intellectual Property Bulletin - Fall 2016

Mean Girls v. The Right of Publicity: Lessons Learned From the Lohan and Gravano Lawsuits - On September 1, 2016, a New York appellate court ended two closely watched right of publicity lawsuits brought by Lindsay...more

Copyright and Trademark Case Review: Who’s on First?, Virtual Lockers and Lanham Act Fee-Shifting

Copyright Opinions - Second Circuit Permits Distribution of Cloud-Based Samples, But Declines to Consider “Novel” Cloud Storage Infringement Issue: Smith v. Barnesandnoble.com, LLC, No. 15-3508 (2d Cir. October 6,...more

Losing Control of V

A common client question is: “Can I ‘get in trouble’ for copying a picture, drawing, or cartoon and pasting it into my report, PowerPoint, etc.?” Before you can answer, they try to answer their own question, adding “Everyone...more

Happy Birthday To Me: An Iconic Song Enters The Public Domain After Copyright Settlement

As I turn 50 years old this week, I can’t help but think of the famous Happy Birthday song and the class action that resulted in its entering the public domain earlier this year. The class action plaintiffs in that case...more

Michigan v. M22: The Road Sign Trademark Battle

If you’ve ever driving north through Michigan, particularly during the autumn leaf season, I highly recommend taking the popular “scenic route,” that is, the route bordering the shore of Lake Michigan along the Leelanau...more

I Really Like “I [LOVE] NY” – The History Of An Iconic Logo And Ad Campaign

I am in New York City for the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s (“IPO”) Annual Meeting. I have been to the Annual Meeting before in other cities and had a great time, but was thrilled when I heard that it was going...more

Copyright At The Museum: Musings In Anticipation Of The IPO Dinner At The MOMA

As a fan of modern art, I am looking forward to the dinner reception at next week’s Annual Meeting of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), which will be held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. As a member of...more

The Pleads Of The Many: 50 Years of Star Trek Lawsuits

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere of the original series of Star Trek, which first aired on NBC in September 1966. On July 22, this milestone will be marked in earnest when Paramount Pictures releases...more

“Happy Birthday” Lawyers Look to “Overcome” Another Copyright

Moving from the celebratory to the spiritual, the lawyers who (literally) brought you “Happy Birthday” once again find themselves looking to overcome entrenched copyright interests related to one of the country’s most...more

An E-Bay User Copied and Sold Thousands of Designs for Profit, but is it Legal?

Three-dimensional printing technology continues to be a new frontier of creativity, advancement, and of course, legal issues. The laws surrounding 3D printing have always been a topic of concern, but the discussion took...more

If Uncle Sam Knows, Doesn’t Everyone? Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal Under Public Disclosure Bar, But Opens Door for...

On Feb. 29, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a False Claims Act (FCA) suit, holding the relator, Cause of Action, failed to establish subject matter jurisdiction given the FCA’s public disclosure bar (Cause of...more

Disney’s Influence on United States Copyright Law

If you’ve ever applied for, or researched copyright law, you likely learned one thing above all else: it’s not a perpetual right. So, how, you might wonder, have companies like The Walt Disney Company managed to maintain...more

Court tells Brooklyn Artist to “Fugetaboutit” on Her Copyright Claims against Starbucks

Maya Hayuk is a Brooklyn artist known for her vivid murals that use a variety of geometric shapes punctuated by bright hues and layers of dripping paint. In June of 2015, Hayuk filed a complaint against Starbucks on copyright...more

Regular audits of technology license agreements may reduce your patent royalty payments

Patent license royalty payments can be habit-forming. Some patent licenses have terms extending for potentially two decades or longer. As a result, patent licenses are frequently filed away never to be seen again....more

Using “Borrowed” Images in Your Blog

An engaging image, be it a photograph, line art or other graphic, can capture the reader’s attention and drive interest in an online post. Bloggers, especially, are well aware of the attention grabbing benefits of a great...more

When a Quirk of Copyright Law Creates a Christmas Classic: It’s a Wonderful Life and the Public Domain

George Bailey stands on a bridge begging for another chance at life. Upon being granted a second chance, he joyously runs home to embrace his family. As the community of Bedford Falls rallies around him and raises funds to...more

Happy Birthday To You: Blow the Candles Out

On two previous occasions, I wrote about the court battle and decision regarding the copyright status of the lyrics to the song, Happy Birthday to You. As noted in my September 2015 post, the U.S. District Court in California...more

UPDATE – Happy Birthday to Us All?

You know those cheesy variations on the “Happy Birthday” song performed by a half-dozen waiters and waitresses that your friends make you suffer through on your birthday? You notice that for all of the birthday parties you...more

Lawyer Sues DDTC Over "Public Domain"

A New York City attorney is suing the U.S. State Department over a proposed change to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The change pertains to how the regulations define “public domain,” and, if...more

Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl”: a Derivative Work with a Co-Author

On January 1, 2016, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Joseph Goebbels’ diaries will both enter the public domain in most of Europe, where the term of protection ends 70 years after the death of a work’s author. One of the Nazi’s...more

Happy Birthday to All

On September 22, 2015, a California district court issued an opinion that may change birthday celebrations forever. In Rupa Marya v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., the court held that Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. does not own a...more

Monkeying with Copyrights: Who Owns the Monkey Selfies? A Lesson in Copyright Ownership

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on behalf of a crested macaque monkey, who famously snapped a smiling selfie of himself using wildlife photographer David...more

Intellectual Property: Happy Birthday to You (10/15)

If you have ever been to a Chili’s restaurant, odds are you have heard this birthday jingle. Perhaps you have also heard different birthday greetings at other chain restaurants. More likely than not, you have not heard any...more

Music Publisher Caught in Birthday Suit

In 2013, Good Morning to You Productions Corp., Rupa Marya and Robert Siegel (collectively “GMTY”) filed a class action suit against Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., one of the largest music publishing companies in the world and...more

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