This week, copyright issues received considerable federal attention both in the Ninth Circuit of the US Courts of Appeals on Wednesday and in a hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives’ House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet on Thursday. While the court ruled that digital video recorders that automatically
Italian luxury fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have been caught in a fresh legal bind, this time over their brand’s t-shirts sold by American fashion retailer Nordstrom, also a defendant. The shirts, which were priced at up to $295 apiece, have since been removed from sale on Nordstrom’s website. Actor Peter Fonda is suing for at least $6 million in compensation, claiming that the iconic images of himself in the classic 1969 film, “Easy Rider”, were used without his permission. Movie stills of Fonda on a motorcycle and the movie’s title in its original font are emblazoned on the t-shir
In a year rife with counterfeit lawsuits filed by Tory Burch to protect her famous TT logo, the designer brand is now faced with a suit itself as the defendant, a New York company Lin & J, recently struck back with a countersuit. Lin & J own a wholesale brand called Isis that sells rings, necklaces, and earrings Tory Burch asserts are counterfeits of the brand’s own jewelry. However, Lin & J deny that the Isis jewelry pieces are copies and that similarities are coincidental. In their counterclaim, Lin & J accuse Tory Burch of copying their design instead. Besides trademark infringement, they are suing the fashion brand for unfair trade practices, tortious interference with its business relationships and defamation.
8 Mile Style, a song publisher for Eminem, filed a lawsuit in May against Facebook and Wieden & Kennedy, the advertising agency behind Facebook’s “Airplane” commercial for copyright infringement. The copyrighted song in question is “Under the Influence”, a collaboration piece between Eminem and rap group D12 off “The Marshall Mathers LP”, Eminem’s third and most successful studio album to date.
This past June, Apple has filed for a trademark on the name “iWatch” in Taiwan, Japan, Russia and Mexico, and reportedly in Turkey, Chile and Colombia as well. Analysts take the term to imply that a new ‘smart watch’ is in the works to be released by the tech company; however, the trademark applications could just be a protective move to
Robin Thicke and co-writers Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris of this summer’s pop anthem, “Blurred Lines”, filed a lawsuit on August 15 in response to accusations by Marvin Gaye’s family and Bridgepoint Music, Inc. that the hit copies from Gaye’s 1977 single “Got to Give It Up” and Funkadelic’s 1974 song “Sexy Ways”. Bridgepoint Music owns some of the copyright for Funkadelic’s music. The Gayes and Bridgepoint have threatened to sue if the artists do not pay a monetary settlement, so Thicke, Williams and Harris are seeking declaratory relief from a Californian US District Court that would protect their from the defendants’ claims.
What started out as a group of ex-college athletes looking to win monetary compensation from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which has been profiting from sports video games and media broadcasts using athletes’ names, images and likenesses in their production, may soon culminate in a class action lawsuit that would change the game of
Michael Kors is reportedly seeking a court order to prevent further advertising of its items by Costco. Additionally, profits and punitive damages as a result of the contested ads are being sought. Costco does not sell Michael Kors bags either in retail stores or online, and the misleading pricing is a far cry from the high end prices seen on the Michael Kors website, ranging from $298 to $1195.
The history of celebrities suing over the unauthorized use of their images on merchandise for the most part has not been a successful one despite the frequency of such occurrences (see the Peter Fonda, Dolce & Gabbana Easy Rider t-shirt case), so Rihanna’s won case may provide precedent for similar disputes in the future. However, her case has been analyzed and characterized as driven very much by the facts and specifics of its context. As the justice noted, there is “no such thing as a general right by a famous person to use control the reproduction of their image”, and besides, the image rights would have belonged to the photographer who took the photo.
In September 2012, the suit was brought to court again, and this time, the court recognized Louboutin’s trademark for having “secondary meaning” by way of the contrast between the red sole and a different color on the rest of the shoe. Still, because the YSL shoes in question were entirely red, not just on the soles, the court permitted continuing sale of the shoes.