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Category Archives: Copyright Law

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“Birds of a Feather” – The Ninth Circuit Confronts “Single Unit of Publication” Copyright Issue

Posted in Copyright Law, IP

Unicolors, Inc. creates and markets artistic design fabrics to various garment manufacturers.  Some of these designs are marketed to the public and placed in its showroom while other designs are considered “confined” works that Unicolor sells to certain customers. Unicolors withholds marketing them to the general public for a set period of time. In order… Continue Reading

Inside Out: The Ninth Circuit Holds The Moodsters are No Batman

Posted in Copyright Law, IP

(This article was republished with permission by ABA Business Law Today on 6/2/2020, available here.) Certain literary or graphic characters may, in some cases, enjoy copyright protection. Think James Bond – or Batman and even his Batmobile.  Recently, the Ninth Circuit was called upon to determine whether the Moodsters, “anthropomorphized characters representing human emotions,” are subject to the… Continue Reading

Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Deadlines Extended Due to COVID-19

Posted in Copyright Law, IP, Patent Law, Trademark Law

On March 31, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that, pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, certain deadlines for patent and trademark applications would be extended. The CARES Act authorizes the PTO to toll, waive, or modify any patent or trademark deadline in effect during the COVID-19 emergency. The… Continue Reading

SCOTUS Rules That North Carolina is Protected from Copyright Infringement Claims by Sovereign Immunity

Posted in Copyright Law, IP

The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the state government is free to infringe copyrights without fear of retribution. In Allen v. Cooper, the Supreme Court decided whether the state of North Carolina could be held liable under the Copyright Act for infringing filmmaker Frederick Allen’s copyright relating to Queen Anne’s Revenge…. Continue Reading

Lil Nas X Takes His Horse to the Old Town Road and Moves to Dismiss Producers’ Copyright Infringement Action Concerning “Rodeo”

Posted in Copyright Law, IP

Lil Nas X broke onto the scene in spectacular fashion when he released the viral sensation “Old Town Road,” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. Old Town Road broke the prior record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and eventually resulted in Lil Nas X receiving a Grammy award. Unfortunately,… Continue Reading

Is a Copyright Notice Sufficient Evidence a Textbook Is a Printed Publication for Institution of Inter Partes Review?

Posted in Copyright Law, IP, Patent Law

To use a textbook or other reference to challenge the validity of a patent in a petition for inter partes review (“IPR”), the textbook must have been “publicly accessible” prior to the date of the challenged patent to qualify as a printed publication. Is a copyright notice sufficient evidence that a textbook was publicly accessible?… Continue Reading

Disney Seeks to Stop the Rise of Infringing Baby Yoda Goods on Etsy

Posted in Copyright Law, Entertainment Law, IP

When Disney chose to delay the production and release of merchandise related to The Child—commonly referred to as Baby Yoda—from its hit series, The Mandalorian, it created a significant opportunity for unlicensed fans to create and sell such merchandise. According to statements released by the Walt Disney Company, it intentionally delayed the production of Baby… Continue Reading

Player/Haters May Be Original Afterall

Posted in Copyright Law, IP

In the early 2000’s, an all-girl band called 3LW performed a song called “Playas Gon’ Play,”  which was written by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler.  “Playas Gon’ Play” was initially released in May, 2001 and rose to number 81 on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.  The album on which “Playas Gon’ Play” appeared sold over… Continue Reading

Order in Netflix Lawsuit is a Reminder of the Bounds of Copyright Protection

Posted in Copyright Law, Entertainment Law, IP

Virginia Vallejo, a well known Colombian journalist and media personality, authored the memoir “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar”.  The book is a factual account of her romantic relationship with Pablo Escobar and a chronicle of the rise of the Colombian drug cartel. Vallejo claimed that certain scenes in the television series Narcos infringed the copyright in… Continue Reading

What Happens When the Intellectual Property Laws Clash with the Antitrust Laws?

Posted in Copyright Law, IP, Patent Law, Trademark Law

Should a company be required to license its patents to a competitor?  That’s one question that arises when intellectual property law and antitrust law intersect. The Sherman Act, section 1, prohibits concerted action (agreements, combinations, or conspiracies) that restrain trade.  Four types of conduct are per se unlawful; i.e., illegal regardless of the reason.  They… Continue Reading

Counterculturalist Banksy to Defend His Intellectual Property in a European Cancellation Proceeding

Posted in Copyright Law, IP, Trademark Law

If you’re familiar with Banksy, you know he’s the epitome of counterculturalism. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Banksy, he is an anonymous England-based street artist, vandal, political activist, and film director who has been active since the 1990s. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine graffiti and dark, sometimes morbid, humor…. Continue Reading

Potential Copyright Owners Beware: Make Sure Your Copyright Registrations Are Accurate!

Posted in Copyright Law, IP

Normally, a copyright registration certificate constitutes “prima facie evidence of the validity of a copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.”  17 U.S.C. §410(c).  But what happens if that certificate contains knowingly inaccurate information? The purported copyright owner could face not only invalidation of the copyright, but the inability to pursue copyright infringement… Continue Reading

Dr. Seuss and Fair Use, What 20+ Years Will Do!

Posted in Copyright Law, IP

Over twenty years ago, the Ninth Circuit decided the case of Dr. Seuss Enterprises., LP v. Penguin Books USA, Inc.  That case involved a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Dr. Seuss over a book entitled The Cat NOT in the Hat! A Parody by Dr. Juice.  This book was about the O.J. Simpson trial presented in… Continue Reading

Supreme Court: File Your Copyright Application!

Posted in Copyright Law, Intellectual Property Litigation, IP

This week, the Supreme Court resolved a split in the circuits regarding an issue in copyright law that affects copyright owners in California.  Until now, the law in the Ninth Circuit was that a copyright owner could file suit for infringement as soon as they filed a copyright application in the Copyright Office.  However, in… Continue Reading

Fresh Prince’s Alfonso Ribiero Denied Copyright Registration for the Carlton Dance

Posted in Copyright Law

As we previously wrote on this blog, Alfonso Ribiero, better known as Carlton Banks from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air filed suit against multiple videogame publishers, including the publisher of NBA 2K and Fortnite for featuring avatars that perform his signature “Carlton Dance.” Ribiero’s case, however, may have just encountered a dispositive roadblock. Last… Continue Reading

In-Game “Carlton Dance” Routine Triggers Lawsuit From Fresh Prince Actor Alfonso Ribeiro

Posted in Copyright Law, Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property Litigation

Actors gain notoriety for different reasons.  For some, it’s due to a physical characteristic or an iconic character portrayal.  For Alfonso Ribeiro, it’s a dance.  The dance, which has become known worldwide as the “Carlton Dance,” is a corny dance number performed by Ribeiro’s character Carlton Banks on the 90’s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of… Continue Reading

Royalties, Preemption and Attorney’s Fees

Posted in Copyright Law, IP

The Ninth Circuit recently was called upon to decide awarding attorney’s fees in a case where artists were suing for unpaid royalties under the California Resale Royalties Act (“CRRA”).  In the case, Close v. Sotheby’s, Inc. (decided December 3, 2018), the Ninth Circuit ordered that the Plaintiff-artists be required to pay attorney’s fees to the… Continue Reading

SCOTUS Will Decide What the Copyright Act Means by “Registered.”

Posted in Copyright Law, IP, IP Law Blog Lawyers In The News

Any work that is entitled to copyright protection automatically receives protection when it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. However, in order to benefit from the Copyright Act, the owner must “register” his or her work with the United States Copyright Office. Put another way, in order to protect against copyright infringement, the… Continue Reading

THE ESSENTIAL PURPOSE OF THE SHORT FORM COPYRIGHT ASSIGNMENT

Posted in Copyright Law, IP, IP Law Blog Lawyers In The News

Recently, a client asked why we included a short form option agreement and a short form assignment agreement as an exhibit to a long form literary option agreement.  I am sure that many a corporate transactional attorney has similarly wondered why a short form copyright assignment agreement is included within the package of numerous M&A… Continue Reading

No More Monkey Business: The Ninth Circuit Finds Monkeys Cannot Sue for Copyright Infringement

Posted in Copyright Law, IP Law Blog Lawyers In The News

The Ninth Circuit was recently faced with a novel issue: Does a crested macaque, or generally speaking, a monkey, have the right to sue humans, corporations, and companies for damages and injunctive relief arising from claims of copyright infringement? Unless you’re familiar with this case, you’re probably wondering what occurred to give rise to Naruto,… Continue Reading

The DMCA’s Safe Harbor Provision and Policing Repeat Infringers

Posted in Copyright Law, IP Law Blog Lawyers In The News, Privacy

The Ninth Circuit recently revisited the issue of the applicability of the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) in the case Ventura Content, Ltd., v. Motherless, Inc., et al. (decided March 14, 2018).  The issue before the Court was whether the defendants had presented undisputed evidence that they fell within the… Continue Reading