Category Archives: Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Trademark

Game Developer Agrees to Cease Usage of “April Madness” and “Final 3” in 2017

Game developer Kizzang LLC, accused by the NCAA of infringing on the Association’s “March Madness” Trademark, has agreed to cease use of similar marks for any of its basketball-themed games during 2017 — while the infringement suit proceeds in Indiana federal court. As background, the NCAA — an avid defender of its “March Madness” mark — filed suit against Kizzang and its owner, Robert Alexander, less than a week before the annual commencement of its men’s basketball tournament. As previously reported, the NCAA’s…

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NCAA Initiates Trademark Infringement Suit Against Online Game Developer Over “April Madness”

With “March Madness” upon us, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition. As background, the NCAA has used the trademarks “Final Four” and “March Madness” to identify and distinguish is basketball competitions for over twenty years. The NCAA marks cover goods like duffel bags, tote bags, and telecommunication services. Notorious for protecting its right to the “Madness” name, the NCAA initiated this trademark infringement suit over online fantasy games called “…

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Helmet Maker Riddell Accuses Rivals of Delaying Football Helmet Patent Infringement Litigations: Unfair Delay, or Proper Use of a Stay Pending the PTAB Outcome?

Riddell, Inc., a Chicago-based sports equipment maker, urged an Illinois federal court to keep its patent infringement suits moving forward, instead of granting its rival’s motion to stay the cases while the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reviews the patents at issue. As background, Riddell filed two lawsuits in April, 2016 against Schutt Sports and Xenith, LLC, alleging the competing companies’ football helmets violated Riddell’s “Sports Helmet” patents, patent numbers 8,938,818 and 8,528,118, both issued between 2013 and 2015. Each patent provides detail…

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NCAA Players’ Likeness Suit Attempts to Gain New Life

On February 17, 2017, two former Catholic University basketball players from the 2001 Division III national championship team pleaded for the Ninth Circuit to revive their class action against a website, T3Media, which sold official NCAA photographs from their championship season. The suit commenced in 2012, but was dismissed in 2015 as a District Court judge found that the website did not exceed its copyright and, therefore, was preempted by the Copyright Act. In response to the court’s dismissal, members of professional player unions in…

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Paul McCartney Seeks to Terminate Sony’s Copyright Interests in Legendary Beatles’ Tracks

Paul McCartney has commenced a full-out mission to re-acquire complete ownership of the copyright interests in the Beatles’ songs Sony acquired rights to 50 years ago. On January 11, 2016, McCartney sought confirmation from a New York federal judge on that he will not face breach of contract liability in the process. McCartney filed termination notices in 2008 pursuant to a provision in the Copyright Act, which affords song-makers whose songs were made prior to 1978 the right to terminate copyright licenses and assignments after…

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Author Looks to Thaw Adverse Copyright Ruling Related to Disney’s Frozen

Muneefa Abdullah, a Kuwaiti children’s author, has appealed a District Court’s recent decision denying the author’s copyright suit against Disney, claiming that the District Court judge failed to see the substantial similarities between her 2007 story “The Snow Princess” and Disney’s megahit Frozen. Abdullah sued the entertainment company in 2015 for copyright infringement, alleging that Walt Disney Studios motion pictures and Frozen screenwriter Jennifer Lee stole plot points, characters, and themes from her story. Last month, Judge Wilson of the Central District of California,…

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Michael Jordan Wins Trademark Case in China

In what is being hailed as a landmark decision, China’s highest court recently ruled in favor of Michael Jordan, holding that he owns the legal rights to the Chinese characters of the equivalent of his name. Jordan sued Qiaodan Sports Company, alleging that it built a brand by putting the Mandarin transliteration of his name on its sportswear. Jordan never gave permission for this use of his name and he has no connection with Qiaodan Sports. The high court overturned the lower courts, which…

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Trademark Liability Setback for The Walking Dead Creator

Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, faced a setback Wednesday, November, 30, 2016 when a judge denied his company’s motion for summary judgement in a trademark liability suit.  Last year, the company filed suit against four entrepreneurs who had filed numerous trademark applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark “The Walking Dead.” The defendants’ 11 patent applications were connected to various goods and services including t-shirts, bottled water, coffee, and other “themed restaurant services.” Currently, the company owns…

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Native American Groups File Brief in Support of Trademark Office’s Ban on Disparaging Trademarks

On November 16, 2016, Native American organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians, filed a brief of amici curiae in support of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO) ban on offensive and disparaging trademarks. The statute at issue before the Supreme Court is Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), which provides that no trademark will be refused registration because of content unless, inter alia, the trademark “[c]onsists of . . .matter[s] which may disparage . . .…

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Stay Where You Are: Supreme Court Denies Premature Appeal in Redskins Case

On October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court rejected a long-shot appeal from the Washington Redskins, refusing to hear their case prior to the Fourth Circuit’s ruling. The team had attempted the rare “certiorari before judgment” because it wanted its case heard alongside The Slants’ similar case, which was accepted by the court on September 29. Like the Redskins’ case, the band argued that the board’s refusal to trademark the band name “The Slants” violated its right to free speech. Though the Patent and Trademark…

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