Tag Archives: copyright infringement

USPTO To Hold Roundtable on Fraudulent Trademark Solicitations

The USPTO has announced that on July 26, 2017, the Trademark Organization and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee plan to hold a roundtable discussion on fraudulent trademark solicitations.

Fraudulent trademark solicitations have been a problem for trademark holders around the world for decades. Scammers typically mine trademark application and registration information available online from the USPTO public database to obtain contact information of rights holders or their agents. Solicitations often mimic the look of official government documents, or appear to be from companies whose names falsely suggest a connection with the USPTO, including terms such as “United States,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” Typical solicitations include offers for legal services, monitoring services, or offers to record trademarks with customs officials, all in exchange for substantial fees. The cost of these scams to trademark holders can be substantial. In late December of last year, the Department of Justice reported on a mass-mailing scam that netted approximately $1.66 million from U.S. rights holders, and has resulted in five convictions to date. Continue reading

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Supreme Court Holds Cheerleader Uniform Designs Are Copyrightable

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court held that decorative designs affixed to cheerleader uniforms may be entitled to copyright protection under the Copyright Act of 1976. The decision determined the proper approach to analyzing whether and how pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features can be identified separately from the utilitarian aspects of a useful article, potentially making such features eligible for copyright protection.

Varsity Brands, Inc., Varsity Spirit Corporation, and Varsity Spirit Fashions & Supplies, Inc. (together, “Varsity Brands”) design, manufacture, and sell cheerleading uniforms.  Varsity Brands holds numerous U.S. copyright registrations for uniform designs, including the following:  Continue reading

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Parties in Star Trek Fan Litigation Don’t Boldly Go Into the Unknown; Settle Claims

The Central District of California recently denied both parties’ motions for summary judgment in a copyright infringement case involving a fan Star Trek film, setting the dispute up for a jury trial. However, the Court’s findings that defendant Axanar Productions, Inc.’s film was objectively similar to Plaintiffs’ copyrighted Star Trek works, and that Defendants had no valid fair use defense, was sufficient to lead the parties to settlement.

Since 1966, Plaintiffs have produced six Star Trek television series totaling more than 700 episodes, and thirteen Star Trek motion pictures. Additionally, Plaintiffs have licensed numerous derivative works, including books, games, merchandise, and audio-visual works. These works incorporate stories taking place in time periods both before and after the original television series. Collectively, these works constitute the Star Trek canon, used by many Trekkers to create fan fiction.  Continue reading

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