The Supreme Court recently denied petitions for certiorari in two of the most highly watched intellectual property cases before the Court. Those cases were Jack Daniel’s Properties Inc. v. VIP Products LLC and The Moodsters Company v. Walt Disney Company. Both cases were on petition from the Ninth Circuit and are summarized below for your convenience.

I.          Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products LLC

In Jack Daniel’s Properties, Jack Daniel’s sued the maker of a dog toy, known as the Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker, that was comedically modeled after the Jack Daniel’s Old. No. 7 bottle. The toy was a clear parody, but Jack Daniel’s alleged that the toy infringed its intellectual-property rights. VIP Products argued that their use wasn’t infringement because the toy was an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection under Rogers v. Grimaldi. The district court rejected the argument and found VIP Products had infringed Jack Daniel’s trademark/trade dress.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Update: SCOTUS Denies Review of Two Highly Watched IP Cases

Weintraub attorneys Josh Escovedo and Scott Hervey are speakers for the IP Year in Review Webinar co-hosted by The Sacramento County Bar Association (SCBA) Intellectual Property Law Section and the Intellectual Property Student Association of McGeorge School of Law. Josh will be addressing the 2020 developments in trademark law, and Scott will be addressing the

With the proliferation of social media and the ready access to images on the Internet and on any number of platforms, it’s just so easy to copy an image or video that moves you and post it on your social media accounts.  Easy to imagine how this can happen.  However, it’s important to remember that just because an image is posted on the internet or on a social platform doesn’t mean one can copy it and post it as your own.  Over the past two years, Justin Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski, Katy Perry, Gigi Hadid, Khloe Kardashian, LeBron James, Deshaun Watson and others have found themselves being named in lawsuits for copyright infringement arising out of just that; posting a photo of themselves on their social media accounts where the photo was taken by someone else.  While the majority of these cases settle, a few celebrities have decided to fight back.

In 2019 model and actress Emily Ratajkowski was sued over one of her Instagram stories featuring a photo of her that was taken by a paparazzi.  The photo showed her holding a vase of flowers covering her face while she was walking in NYC.  In October 2019, she filed a motion for summary judgement, attacking the plaintiff and his counsel, Richard Liebowitz, claiming that they “have brought this case in bad faith, attempting to turn a critical internet post that was available for only 24 hours into an unsubstantiated payday”, and raising a potentially viable defense – fair use.
Continue Reading Copyright Risks of Posting a “Non-Selfie”

Nearly unnoticed in the wrangling over the amount of COVID relief payments, the stimulus bill signed into law on December 27, 2020 also included several interesting intellectual property provisions.  Buried thousands of pages into the bill, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (the “CASE Act”) establishes a small claims court-type system under the U.S. Copyright Office for copyright holders to pursue low-value claims of copyright violations.

As it stands now, copyright infringement litigation is time-consuming and expensive, especially for small copyright holders.  Copyright infringement is rife on social media, leaving content creators with few options short of hiring a lawyer, sending cease-and-desist letters, and filing lawsuits.  The attorney’s fees for such litigation can easily exceed the recovery for copyright infringement, leaving the content creator at a serious disadvantage.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Stimulus Bill also Includes Little-known Provision Creating New Streamlined Tribunal for Copyright Infringement Claims