News and Articles

SCOTUS Ushers in New Year with Trademark Ruling

With the New Year comes new decisions being handed down by the Supreme Court, and there have already been a handful related to intellectual property. You may remember our earlier case preview for Hana Financial v. Hana Bank in which the Supreme Court would decide whether trademark tacking was a question for the judge or jury. The Court issued its unanimous decision in January ruling that tacking is a question of fact to be decided by the jury. (Read the full opinion here) Tacking is a doctrine that allows a trademark owner to make slight...

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USPTO to Increase Efficiency and Decrease Filing Fees

In what should come as great news to attorneys and their clients, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has amended several regulations that will increase electronic processing of trademark applications while reducing application fees. To achieve this, the USPTO will offer additional electronic application processing through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) and will communicate with registrants via email. The USPTO said that the ease of electronic filing through TEAS and email communication will streamline and...

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Grooveshark Falls to Record Label Giants in Copyright Infringement Case

Grooveshark became yet another file sharing website to face defeat against the recording industry for copyright infringement. It came shortly after Sirius XM Radio, Inc. lost to a 1960s band for its infringement of its music. (Read the full opinion here) Grooveshark (the court referred to by its parent company, Escape Media Group) is an online music service that allows users to stream music directly from its site. Although Grooveshark has licenses for some of its music, it doesn’t for all of its content, which is primarily obtained from the...

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Supreme Court Closes Case on Sherlock Holmes Copyrights

The Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving Sherlock Holmes copyrights, leaving almost all of the late author’s work within the public domain, i.e. they no longer have copyright protection. The case involved the Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who originally created the famed characters, and Leslie S. Klinger, an author who wished to use Sherlock and other characters in a book about Doyle’s work. Klinger previously co-edited an anthology about Doyle’s Sherlock stories and his publisher paid a $5,000.00 licensing fee to...

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Pizzeria Makes its Case for Trademarking Food

A federal court in Texas ruled that flavors of a pizza chain’s food and its plating techniques lacked trademark and trade dress protection. The pizza chain, New York Pizzeria, Inc. (NYPI) alleged that Ryandir Syal, a restaurateur, along with other defendants, obtained NYPI’s trade secrets and additional information through a series of other illegal acts. Syal then used the information for a business in direct competition with NYPI, while allegedly infringing on NYPI’s intellectual property. The court’s decision came after Syal made a...

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Movin’ On Up: PODS Beats U-Haul in Trademark Infringement Case              

What began as a trademark infringement case, developed into a battle of possible “genericide” when two popular moving and storage companies went head-to-head in federal court. Back in 2012, PODS sued U-Haul for trademark infringement for its use of “pods” under both state and federal laws. U-Haul countered that it was not infringement, because pods has become a generic term and has lost its distinctiveness in the market.

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Unhappily Together: Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc.

In a legal battle questioning copyright protection for the 1967 hit song, “Happy Together,” the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held that sound recordings made before February 15, 1972, are granted exclusive ownership rights under California’s copyright laws. (Read the order here) The Turtles – the 1960s band who owns the copyrights to their song “Happy Together” – sued Sirius XM for the satellite radio provider’s unauthorized use of the song. The band claimed that Sirius streamed, broadcasted, and...

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Warner Brothers Keeps a “Clean Slate” in Trademark Infringement Case

In a case stemming from the 2012 box office hit, The Dark Knight Rises, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit granted Warner Brothers’ motion to dismiss allegations of trademark infringement made against it for a fictional software program appearing in its film. (Read the decision here) Fortres Grand Corporation owns and sells Clean Slate, a computer security program that can restore a computer hard drive back to its original configuration. It is often used for public access computers in schools and libraries to ensure that all...

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Never a Dull Moment in the Business of IP – Summer Roundup and Look Ahead

With Labor Day quickly approaching, and Back-to-Work and Back-to-School mentality haunting many of our minds, it’s a good time to reflect on what’s transpired in the IP world so far this year. From the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) revoking the Redskins’ registered trademark, to Aereo taking a hit in the U.S. Supreme Court over copyright in the clouds, the courts have had their hands full with intellectual property issues this year, and given the ever-changing landscapes we face business and technology wise, it...

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Protecting “Pig Sooie” & Distinctive Sounds Through Trademark

Earlier this summer, the University of Arkansas, home of the Razorbacks, secured trademark protection for its “Calling the Hogs” chant. Football and basketball fans may recognize the familiar “woo pig sooie!” cheer, which was granted trademark protection by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Registration Number 4558864: “The Mark consists of a sound. The Mark consists of a crowd cheering the following words “WOOOOOOOO. PIG. SOOIE!  WOOOOOOOO. PIG. SOOIE! WOOOOOOOO. PIG. SOOIE!...

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