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

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 Yoda merchandise to avoid any leaks about the character’s existence until The Mandalorian aired. Because the first episode of The Mandalorian was not released until November 12, 2019, the Walt Disney Company was left with minimal time to release related merchandise. In fact, the Walt Disney Company was only able to roll out limited merchandise in advance of the holiday season, presumably losing a substantial sum of money it would have earned if it had released its full assortment of Baby Yoda gear before the holidays. Of course, as is usually the case with Disney and Star Wars fans, when Disney and LucasFilms fail to deliver, the fans intervene—this is the way.
Continue Reading Disney Seeks to Stop the Rise of Infringing Baby Yoda Goods on Etsy

If you’ve ever applied for, or Josh Escovedo 02_finalresearched copyright law, you likely learned one thing above all else: it’s not a perpetual right. So, how, you might wonder, have companies like The Walt Disney Company managed to maintain copyrights on certain creations for almost 100 years? In the case of the Walt Disney Company, the answer is simple. It is powerful enough that it actually changed United States copyright law before its rights were going to expire.

When copyright law was first codified in the United States pursuant to the United States Copyright Act, the copyright duration was limited to 14 years. Today, copyrights can last over 100 years. That’s a huge change, and there are an overwhelming number of copyright experts that will tell you that it is all because of a mouse.

Now that may be a slight overstatement. The copyright duration changed some prior to the creation of Mickey Mouse. The Copyright Act of 1790 included a provision that provided for an additional 14-year term if the creator was alive. Of course, at that point, copyright protection only applied to select creations such as maps and books. But 41 years later, in 1831, the Act was amended to allow for an initial 28-year term, with eligibility for a 14-year extension. Thereafter, in 1909, the Act was changed again to allow for a 28-year renewal instead.


Continue Reading Disney’s Influence on United States Copyright Law