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Recently, a lawsuit was filed by Solid Oak Sketches, LLC (“Plaintiff”) against various companies responsible for creating the “NBA 2K” video game.[1] The Complaint alleges that the Defendants are liable for copyright infringement over the use of tattoos of professional basketball players in Defendants’ “NBA 2K16” video game.[2] The dispute is over tattoos done by artists on various professional basketball players, such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and DeAndre Jordan.[3]  Plaintiff alleges that it is the owner of the copyrights in such tattoo designs as a result of license agreements with the individual artists. Read more

Recently, the Defend Trade Secrets Act was passed by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The Defend Trade Secrets Act is headed by U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Chris Coons, who issued a press release stating their case for the bill.[1] The Defend Trade Secrets Act attempts to create a federal cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets.[2] Currently, trade secret law is governed by state law and is subject to the various differing standards within each state. Having a federal standard would provide clarity, but the passing of a federal law may create concerns about whether the current state laws will be preempted by the proposed federal law. The Economic Espionage Act of... Read more

On January 15, 2016, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case which requests that the Supreme Court determine the proper standard for attorneys’ fees awards in copyright cases.[1] The party requesting review by the Supreme Court, Kirstsaneg (“Petitioner”) prevailed against Respondent, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (“Respondent”), who had sued the Petitioner for copyright infringement as a result of allegations that the Petitioner had purchased Respondent’s textbooks and then resold them without authorization.[2] Petitioner prevailed under the “first sale” doctrine which was found to be a complete defense to Respondent’s claims.[3] Having... Read more

Recently, Home Box Office, Inc. (“HBO”), Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg were sued for copyright infringement over the HBO show “Ballers.”[1] The lawsuit was brought by two writers who allege that the show “Ballers” copies elements from their trailer and treatment entitled “Off Season,” for which the Plaintiffs have submitted copyright applications.[2] The Plaintiffs allege that they pitched their “Off Season” movie to one or more of the Defendants prior to the airing of the show “Ballers.”[3] Plaintiffs also allege that Defendants were interested in producing “Off Season” but a deal was not able to get done since one or more of... Read more

Recently, a lawsuit that was filed against various entities and persons related to the professional ice hockey team, the Orlando Solar Bears, was dismissed.[1] The lawsuit was originally brought in the Western District of New York but was then moved to the Middle District of Florida.[2] The Plaintiff’s complaint alleged causes of action for trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, and copyright infringement.[3] The Orlando Solar Bears are a professional ice hockey team in the East Coast Hockey League, which operates as one of the developmental/minor leagues for the National Hockey League (“NHL”). The ECHL is a tier below the... Read more

Recently, Actor/Musician Jared Leto, through his company Sisyphus Touring, Inc., filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against celebrity gossip/entertainment news company TMZ.[1] The Plaintiff alleges in the Complaint that TMZ used video footage of Jared Leto in his home music studio, in which Mr. Leto allegedly critiqued various Taylor Swift songs and otherwise uses profanity.[2] The Complaint alleges that the Plaintiff has filed an application to copyright the video footage and that TMZ obtained the footage without Plaintiff’s consent or authorization.[3] Plaintiff alleges the Defendants obtained the video footage from a former videographer hired by... Read more

Recently, E. & J. Gallo Winery (“Gallo”) opposed the registration of a trademark application filed by Conscious Cultures LLC (“CC”) for the term BAREFOOT BUCHA.[1] CC applied for registration of the mark BAREFOOT BUCHA for use in connection with Kombucha Tea.[2] According to CC’s website, Kombucha Tea is a “naturally carbonated, fermented tea that originated in Eurasia” which is usually drank after a meal and provides digestive benefits.[3] The Kombucha Tea provided by CC does not contain alcohol.[4] In its opposition Gallo alleges that it is the owner of the family of trademarks for the term... Read more

We previously wrote a blog entry on whether copyright protection could be obtained for a “Selfie”. A novel question of copyright law was raised in that blog entry regarding the ability of an Indonesian crested macaque, a type of monkey, to obtain copyright protection in photographs taken by the macaque. Earlier this year a lawsuit was filed by People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. (“PETA”), on behalf of the macaque, seeking copyright protection for the photographs.[1] In 2011, the macaque took several photographs of itself with a camera left unattended by photographer and defendant, David John... Read more

Recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) denied an opposition, by Boston Athletic Association (“BAA”), to the registration of the mark MARATHON MONDAY by Velocity, LLC (“Velocity”).[1] Velocity filed an application for the mark MARATHON MONDAY for use in connection with “clothing, namely tops, bottoms, headwear, sweatshirts, sweat pants, jackets, pullovers, caps, hats, socks.”[2] Velocity’s application was opposed by BAA, which is the entity responsible for organizing the annual Boston Marathon. BAA objected to registration of the mark MARATHON MONDAY because it created a false association with BAA. Read more

Recently, the creator of the “HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE” YouTube video filed a lawsuit against Kohl’s Department Stores alleging various federal trademark and copyright claims.[1] The Plaintiff published a YouTube video on January 18, 2011 which consisted of his comedic narration describing the traits of a honey badger.[2] The video became popular generating more than 75 million views on YouTube.[3] The Plaintiff subsequently obtained a copyright for the narration of the video and trademarks for the phrase “HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE,” which was repeated often by the Plaintiff throughout the YouTube video.[4]... Read more

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