Our Blog


Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael I. Santucci, who is a managing partner of Santucci Priore, P.L, and Daniel Devine of Santucci Priore P.L., helped settle a federal lawsuit regarding intellectual property rights owned by Ernest Evans, the legendary musical artist commonly known as “Chubby Checker.” Chubby Checker is best known for his hit song “The Twist” which rose to #1 on Billboard Magazine’s “Hot 100” singles chart. In 2008, “The Twist” was selected by Billboard... Read more

According to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, Brazil has officially surpassed the United Kingdom in the amount of tourists visiting Florida each year.  It should come as no surprise that Brazilians have reached this top spot.  Over the last few years, Brazilians have flocked to the United States, and particularly South Florida, to invest in real estate, open businesses, to vacation and to shop.  In 2013 alone, over one million Brazilians visited Florida. U.S. Consulates in Brazil couldn’t handle the amount of visa requests it was... Read more

Today, President Obama announced that he will soon sign an executive order banning employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and subcontractors.  The announcement follows years of inaction by Congress to prevent such discrimination in the workplace. The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it unlawful for employers nationwide to harass or fire an employee based on gender identity or sexual orientation, passed the Democrat-dominated Senate, but was held up in the Republican-dominated House of... Read more

Section I:  Introduction In today's world, the growing popularity of Electronic Dance Music, commonly known as "EDM," is rapidly revolutionizing music, reviving rave culture from the 1990s, but at the same time, is further complicating the world of music sampling in copyright law.[1]  As a result of its popularity in dance clubs, the infatuation with EDM has naturally fostered the idea that anyone can become a disc jockey ("DJ") and that one's reliance on others' copyright-protected works to create new music is excusable.[2]  However, EDM is a... Read more

The Copyright Act defines audiovisual works as: works that consist of a series of related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of machines, or devices such as projectors, viewers, or electronic equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as films or tapes, in which the works are embodied. Leader, Inc. v. BMG Music Publ’g, 512 F.3d 522, 526-527. (9th Cir. Cal. 2008).The Copyright Act defines literary works as "works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or... Read more

How many times have you seen an article about a wealthy person who failed to do the proper planning for their estate? It is surprising when people with such wealth and access to professional financial advisors fail to take action to reduce estate taxes and preserve their wealth. The fact, however, is that most people are not ultra-wealthy and will not be affected by the Federal Estate Tax with the current exemption of $5,250,000 in 2013. In other words, most of us do not have wealth that exceeds $5.25 million. Here are three items that would affect a larger part of the population in regard to Estate Taxes: What State Do You Live In? Some states have an Estate Tax and other states may have an Inheritance Tax. Some states have both. While Federal Estate... Read more

The law firm of Santucci Priore, P.L. will host a Champion Reception for “Save the Twinz: LIVE PINK,” a local breast cancer organization on Thursday, October 3, 2013 in the lobby of their Fort Lauderdale office. The purpose of the reception is to pay homage to survivors and supporters in the fight against breast cancer. Orvino Imports & Distributing, Inc. donated Italian wines and Flora Foods supplied some traditional Italian accompaniments. South Florida artists Stichiz and Moonchild are set to perform in the Santucci Priore, P.L. lobby. Business attorney Joseph V. Priore of the law firm of Santucci Priore, P.L. said: “Save the Twinz is making an otherwise late night of work interesting, and is rallying support for their important fight.”... Read more

Imagine that you are a young photographer and you’ve just taken an interesting shot and you are now looking to sell the work in a gallery. A prominent soft drink company picks up your photo and doctors your work with a new mission — the promotion of a new brand of soft drinks. They also register the copyright of the derivative work in their names, giving them complete control over your picture in all future uses. When the commercial reaches national attention, you find that your interesting photo is now recognized by shoppers in every supermarket. However, the rights to control it may now be lost irretrievably to you! When you hire an attorney to recover copyright damages, your infringing soft drink company offers you all of $3000, which an expert presents... Read more

The renowned singer/entertainer Chubby Checker hired a couple of old friends to defend his coveted trademarks and his name. The same team of Willie E. Gary and Michael I. Santucci who, along with the late Johnnie L. Cochran, were awarded the largest single verdict ever granted against the Walt Disney Company at the time ($240,000,000), are now representing the Chubby Checker brand in a trademark infringement suit against another international corporate giant, the Hewlett-Packard Company and one of their subsidiaries. Fort Lauderdale intellectual property attorney Michael Santucci, who initiated the lawsuit in a federal district court in California with attorney James L. Brown, is now joined by famed attorney Willie E. Gary as his partner who was just this week... Read more

An individual’s name is one of the most valued aspects of a person. Therefore, it’s understandable why almost everyone will defend his or her name when it’s used negatively in a motion picture. Similarly, most individuals will most likely prefer to not have their name used for profit without first giving consent. While these intellectual property rights are applied differently across the country, Florida law does protect persons from having their name or general likeness used commercially against their will. However, it’s paramount to understand the tensions between the lack of protection when one’s name or likeness is used in a motion picture and where the law bifurcates and does protect against it’s use in advertisements. This article will first... Read more

The numerous advances in technology and the rise of the internet have created several unique legal issues. One issue that is often overlooked is whether videos posted online, such as on YouTube, can be used on a website. Individuals and/or businesses that have a website should be mindful of the risk of incurring liability for copyright infringement when YouTube videos are posted and embedded onto a website. The purpose of copyright protection is to protect original expression and not merely ideas or facts. Videos such as those posted on YouTube can be copyrighted if they are original and/or creative. A copyright can be registered with the United States Copyright Office. The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to do and authorize the following: 1) To... Read more

To the average person the term troll conjures an image of a plastic toy with spiky blue hair. To a lawyer or business professional, the term is not something to play around with. In the world of intellectual property, patent trolls are leeches, trying to extract money out of both big and small corporations. The term patent troll, also known as a patent assertion entity (“PAE”), describes a business whose sole purpose is to acquire patents and claim that they are owed money by other companies. These unsuspecting companies are accused of infringing the acquired patents and threatened with lawsuits. The PAE will never manufacture a product or use the patents in any manner except for threatening other companies. Depending on the company being sued, they may... Read more

In today’s world, transparency is a difficult thing to find. Companies as well as the federal government are making news headlines almost daily now, with their lack of information and surplus of leaked secrets. Google has distinguished itself by publishing their Google Transparency Report, beginning in 2011. This report includes removal requests from copyright owners and the government. These requests stem from copy right holders who find a link on Google that violates their copyright. Google then processes the request and in 97% of the instances, the website is removed. Google is now receiving more removal requests each week than it did in the entire 2009 year. This report not only distinguishes them... Read more

Under Armour Inc and Nike Inc have been at each other for years. In fact, in 2003 Nike sued Under Armour for using the term “Dri-Fit” on their products. This time Under Armour believes that Nike is using their trademarked slogan “I Will” in stores and in online media. Nike believes that the slogan is not distinctively associated with Under Armour, thus giving Nike the right to use it. Only time will tell which fitness brand will win this... Read more

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a jury’s conclusion that Jammie Thomas-Rasset pay the recording industry $222,000 for downloading and sharing two dozen copyrighted songs on the now-defunct file-sharing service Kazaa. Without comment, the justices declined (.pdf) to review a petition from the Minnesota woman who claimed the damages award was unconstitutionally excessive and was not rationally related to the harm she caused the music labels. Click here to view the... Read more

The law offices of Santucci Priore, P.L., together with The Florida Bar Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section and the Broward County Bar Association, will host a conference discussing various types of intellectual property law. Michael Santucci and Allison Sinclair Lovelady will discuss and compare trademark and copyright law. Scott Smiley of The Smiley IP Law Group, P.A. will lend his expert opinion and address the recent changes to patent law. CLE credits are available. Contact Daniel Devine to RSVP. Though the event is free to attend, seating will be limited. Further details are below:  Read more

People love March Madness. There’s no other competition in the United States so open ended. More than 60 of the nation’s premier college basketball teams compete with triumphs, upsets, and finish with an undisputed champion. Diehard and casual fans of college basketball fill out more than 40 million brackets each year trying and predict the winner. Even the president is in on it, and he’s no slouch. His bracket is currently ranked in the 98th percentile. March Madness lives up to its name. But it’s more than pure sports entertainment, there’s a fascinating legal aspect to its existence as well. The trademark “March Madness” was settled more than fifteen years ago when the courts decided the moniker was so important it deserved to be reclassified.... Read more

The luxury goods brand Coach has recently sued South Florida’s Swap Shop for damages, alleging that the “Coach” merchandise sold at the Shop are knockoffs. According to reports, the federal suit additionally targets the Swap Shop landlord and principal company for turning a “blind eye” to the vendors selling knockoff goods. Just last year, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement completed an undercover operation which ended in the seizing of thousands of counterfeit goods from the Swap Shop. Coach is generally known for aggressive... Read more

The National Mortgage Settlement Agreement was announced on February 9th by President Obama and various involved banks. It guarantees a sum of $25 billion dollars for “immediate aid to homeowners needing loan modifications now.” The amount could rise to $32 and $40 billion dollars if more banks decide to endorse the agreement. But what does the settlement mean for persons in Florida, and how can they receive aid? The National Mortgage Settlement Agreement set funds aside to benefit qualifying homeowners. There are different ways for homeowners to qualify, and various terms of benefit. More than $8 billion in relief is available in Florida, in the form of loan modifications, refinancing, and restitutions for foreclosed homes. Only mortgages with Citi, Bank of... Read more

We posted a quick guide to risks involved in improperly using a Trademark Registration Symbol (®) a few years back, and want to make sure our new readers are just as well informed. Some businesses will improperly use the trademark registered symbol for a wide range of reasons. Most often, they’re merely mistaken, or innocently using the symbol improperly. But to do so deliberately is fraud. As per Section 906.02 of the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure: “Improper use of the federal registration symbol that is deliberate and intended to deceive or mislead the public is fraud. See TMEP §906.04. However, misunderstandings about use of federal registration symbols are more frequent than occurrences of actual fraudulent intent.” Some of the... Read more

According to Jason Rantanen and Lee Petherbridge, there is a problem with the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). The problem lies in the possible exploitation of a new procedure that the AIA introduces to patent applicants. As a result of this possible exploitation, there may be a reduction in the quality of information available to the patent office when it is making its determination on whether to issue a patent. Furthermore, it can be expected that the patent office will get it right less often than before and therefore more low-quality patents (those that do not meet the requirements for patentability) are likely to be issued. Finally, this new procedure also reveals previously non-existent risks to the integrity of the patent system. The AIA currently... Read more

The technology wars continue to smolder between Apple and other smart-phone companies. It’s a web of litigation, with Apple sustaining lawsuits from more than a dozen companies, while also targeting some of its biggest competitors with claims of their own. Though Apple blew the field wide open in 2007 with the release of the iPhone, new and old competitors reacted quickly to release their own comparable devices. For various reasons some old competitors, like Canada’s Research in Motion (RiM), have fallen hard. Others, like Motorola, are on a rebounding surge. And a new type of competition, from Google’s focus on designing specifically open-sourced software instead of hardware or devices, has proven to be resilient and steadily growing. Google’s strategy... Read more

Since the October 2011 death of Apple, Inc. founder Steve Jobs, companies have been looking for ways to profit off of the technology-icon’s life, and his sudden death. Reports indicate that a 1-foot tall action figure of Jobs was placed for sale by a company In Icons for $99. The action figure consisted of life-like properties of Jobs, including wrinkles, hair, glasses and an apple. The figure also included removable hands, which also featured a replica of his wedding band. Since the date the figure was placed for sale, Jobs fans have been scrambling to secure their purchase. The website also indicated that the figurine was set to ship worldwide in February. It didn’t take long, however, for the Jobs family and Apple, Inc. to pressure In Icons to stop the... Read more

December’s close marked the end of the court-mandated foreclosure mediation program. Although mediation remains an option for parties, and existing or pending mediations will carry forth as planned, no new court mandated mediations shall be filed. This concludes a two year saga as the courts looked for an option to alleviate a stressed system that suffered from an inundation of cases, budget cuts, and staff reductions. The goal of the program was to allow the borrower and lender one final chance at finding compromise before the case came before a judge. But, for many reasons, the system failed. A review published in September 2011 illustrated the difficulties in reaching agreement. While civil court mediations are often successful, with a near 70 percent... Read more

A few years ago, on a supply delivery route just outside of Baghdad, Lieutenant Alvin Shell and a few other U.S. soldiers from his unit were set on fire from a rocket-propelled grenade (“RPG”) attack.  While covered with gasoline, Lieutenant Shell ran back into the fire to rescue the other soldiers from his team.  He pulled them out and led them two miles back to Camp Victory where he finally collapsed, covered with burns. When everyone told him he was a hero, Lieutenant Alvin Shell disagreed. “I’m not a hero” he said.  “A hero is a sandwich…I’m a paratrooper.” Regardless of your views about the Iraq war, take time to reflect over and appreciate your holiday break, and the fact that our soldiers are finally returning home after years in Iraq,... Read more

The District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania recently granted summary judgment in favor of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League regarding a lawsuit for trademark infringement of the “Terrible Towel” trademark.  Beginning in 1975, at the initiation of radio broadcaster Myron Cope, fans of the Steelers have waved yellow and black colored rally towels depicting the words “Terrible Towel” as way to show support for the team during games.  These towels have gained substantial public recognition due to the Steelers’ recent Super Bowl victory in 2008, thus making Steelers merchandise a top seller. Non-profit organization Allegheny Valley School Foundation (“AVS”) is the owner of a federal trademark registration for the... Read more

The attorneys of the law firm of Santucci Priore, P.L. have been retained by the Defendants in the case of Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Limited v. Richard Booker, Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, Inc. and The Bob Marley Heritage Corporation, Case No. 1:11-cv-24326-MGC which is currently pending in the United States District Court in and for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.  The Plaintiff alleges trademark infringement,  unfair competition, dilution and unauthorized use of name and likeness claiming the exclusive right to use various Marley-related trademarks as well as Bob Marley’s name and likeness. According to public records and the Defendants, the Defendant company Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, Inc. was a family company formed back... Read more

Many of our clients seek our assistance in preparing, filing, prosecuting, opposing and cancelling federal or United States Trademark Applications and Registrations.  However, there are lesser known benefits afforded to companies and people who also seek Florida Trademark Registrations.  The benefits of registering a trademark in Florida are: 1. The Florida Trademark Act at § 495.141(1), Florida Statutes now provides for an award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party in a trademark infringement action.  Trademark litigation is often costly and unfortunately often determined based upon which party is the most aggressive and can endure litigation the longest.  The new fee provision permits the recovery of such expenses and therefore gives a... Read more

The Florida Legislature has recently made some changes to the Power of Attorney (POA) laws in Florida. Though some changes are merely semantic, overall they can affect your current POA and the way the Court views it. Below are some, but not all, of the important changes in POA laws. If you already have a POA, or are planning on updating yours, it is best to speak to your legal advisor for advice. The execution requirements of a power of attorney are the same as that of a deed. To make a power durable, the same language as currently required under Section 709.08, Florida Statutes is still required. Power still ceases at death, and while older ‘springboard’ durable clauses will be grandfathered in, no new ones shall be made. A photocopy or... Read more

Profit driven business and social activism are terms not commonly found together. For Eduardo Balarezo though, a marriage of the two is paramount for global interdependence and successful localized economies. His apparel company, Lonesome George & Co., is more than a brand and its product. It has a message, a purpose. The brand, product, and message all synergize to emphasize the importance of community. Lonesome George, working with and through their affiliates, supplies the community with empowering education to create new leaders and agents for local change. The objective is to create communities that will embrace the change required to protect itself and its surrounding natural habitats. Read the Forbes article  Read more