The Copyright Act

News & Analysis as of

Federal Copyright Preemption Extends to Preempt State Laws Which Protect Material That Congress Expressly Declined to Protect...

Recently, we discussed the broad reach of the doctrine of Federal Copyright Preemption. In Ultraflo Corp. v. Pelican Tank Parts, Inc. 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 509 (Jan. 11, 2017), the Fifth Circuit made clear that not only does...more

Who Will Own New Designs in a Jetsons-like Era?

While on my flight back from speaking on trademarks & the alcohol industry at this year’s CiderCon, I listened to a fascinating TedTalks podcast on advancements in artificial intelligence that you can find here. Some of the...more

Misappropriation Versus the Copyright Act: Round 2 in the Fifth Circuit

A few months ago, Trade Secrets Watch covered the GlobeRanger Corp. case in which the Fifth Circuit joined 10 other circuits in determining that the Copyright Act does not preempt state trade secret misappropriation claims....more

Paul McCartney chants 'Get Back' again – The Future of Copyright Termination

The US Copyright Act of 1976 allows artists, writers, and musicians to “get back” grants of copyrights that had been previously licensed or assigned away. Specifically, artists can “terminate” their copyright arrangements...more

Copyright and Trademark Case Review: Copyright Preemption, Software-as-a-Service and Popularity on the Internet

Copyright Decisions - Claim for Copying of Useful Article Design Preempted by Copyright Act: Ultraflo Corp. v. Pelican Tank Parts, Inc., No. 15-20084 (5th Cir. Jan. 11, 2017)...more

The Supreme Court’s Fashionable Case: Implications for Expanding Copyright Protection to Apparel

Currently before the United States Supreme Court is the question: “[w]hat is the appropriate test to determine when a feature of the design of a useful article is protectable under § 101 of the Copyright Act.”1 Put another...more

Canadian Playground Fight Highlights the Importance of Industrial Design Protection

A recent decision of the Federal Court of Canada has highlighted the difficulties in asserting trademark and copyright rights related to the appearance of functional products with unique design elements....more

Paul McCartney Sues Sony/ATV to Reclaim Copyrights to Beatles Songs

Sir Paul McCartney has filed suit against Sony/ATV Music Publishing in New York Federal Court, seeking a declaration that he can exercise his termination rights under the Copyright Act of 1976 in order to reclaim the rights...more

A Tale of Two Cakes: Can Copyright Law Protect this Cake Design?

Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes, one of our hometown heroes in Baltimore, a.k.a. the Ace of Cakes, created a striking cake for President Obama’s 2012 inauguration. The cake design caught the eye of the incoming presidential...more

Copyrighting a Dream

This week we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s mission was to teach our nation the value of tolerance and mutual respect regardless of each person’s differences. These lessons still ring...more

Canadian IP law and practice in 2016: reviewing the highlights

As the calendar turns the page from 2016 to 2017, we take the opportunity to review Canadian IP law and practice highlights from the past year....more

Is There Copyright in a Screenshot?

Ever wanted to remove something after it had been swallowed up in the gaping maw of the internet? Then you will relate to this story about an individual’s struggle to have certain content deleted from the self-appointed...more

NY Common Law Does Not Provide Creators With Control Over Public Performances of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

On December 20, 2016, the New York Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) issued a landmark state copyright law decision, holding in response to a certified question from the Second Circuit in Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius...more

Seven IP Cases to Watch in Early 2017

SCA Hygiene AB v. First Quality Baby Products. LLC (Docket No. 15-927, S. Ct.) - In SCA Hygiene AB v. First Quality Baby Products LLC,the Supreme Court will consider “[w]hether and to what extent the defense of laches...more

Not Gone with the Wind: IP Rights Despite Public Domain Images

In 2006, Warner Bros. filed suit against A.V.E.L.A., X One X Productions, and ArtNostalgia.com, Inc. (collectively, “AVELA”) for copyright and trademark infringement under the Copyright Act, the Lanham Act, and state law....more

New Electronic System for DMCA Safe Harbor Agent

If your company hosts or operates an interactive website that allows users to post or upload materials, you need to have a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) policy. A DMCA policy gives copyright owners the opportunity...more

Website Operators Must Use New Online System to Qualify for DMCA Safe Harbor

On December 1, 2016, online service providers (including most website operators, cloud service providers and online communication services) must qualify for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) safe harbor by using a...more

Federal Copyright Preemption of State Law Claims – Still a Powerful Defense Tool in Commercial Litigation

Recently our colleagues Natalie Arbaugh and Rex Mann discussed the Fifth Circuit’s decision in GlobeRanger Corp. v. Software AG USA, Inc., 2016 WL 4698270 (5th Cir., Sept. 7, 2016), focusing on the Court’s discussion of the...more

Chevrons, Stripes, Cheerleaders, and Copyright: The Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands

The closely watched case of Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands was argued in front of the the Supreme Court on Monday, offering anxious fashion designers a glimpse into how the Justices may rule. ...more

We’ve Got the Copyright, How ‘bout You? Supreme Court Grapples with Cheerleader Uniforms

On Halloween, the highest court in the land heard oral argument on whether cheerleader uniform designs are subject to copyright protection. Varsity Brand, Inc. (“Varsity”), the country’s largest maker of cheerleader uniforms,...more

Is a Cheerleading Uniform’s Design Separable from its Utilitarian Aspects and Therefore Copyrightable? - Star Athletica V....

On October 31, 2016, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Star Athletica V. Varsity Brands. At the core of the case is whether the design of a cheerleading uniform, including patterns, graphics and colors,...more

“Gimme a C!” (for Copyright): Supreme Court to Weigh Cheerleader Apparel Copyright Case

Are cheerleading outfits functional “useful items” that normally are ineligible for copyright protection? Or do they contain distinct design elements that allow for copyright ownership? ...more

Are You Allowed to Jailbreak Your Car? As of Today, the Answer is Yes.

Modern automobiles are operated by dozens of computers, known as Electronic Control Units or ECUs, which control almost all of the main functions in a vehicle, including engine control, fuel efficiency, and breaking. The...more

Fearing Trolls, Some “Friends of the Court” Turn to Laches for Solace While Others Urge Reversal in SCA Hygiene v. First Quality...

On November 1st, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to decide whether “Raging Bull” applies in patent litigation. At issue is whether and to what extent a laches defense may bar a claim for damages in patent...more

SPINAL TAPPED OUT: Harry Shearer’s Lawsuit is No Laughing Matter

For many of us, This is Spinal Tap remains the benchmark (if not the first great example) of the so-called “Mockumentary” genre of film. Since its first release in 1984 (it had a subsequent theatrical release thereafter) to...more

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