Chick-Fil-A and ESPN Under Attack for Copyright Infringement

On April 10, 2018, music producer, Platinum Jack Entertainment, LLC filed suit in a Texas court against Chick-Fil-A and ESPN for their allegedly impermissible use of a band’s original music in recent commercials. The commercials feature sportscasters Joey Galloway and Adnan Virk of ESPN making chicken-related football commentary, with the tune of the song in dispute playing in the background. Though the song lacks the vocals that would make its appropriation clear, Platinum Jack contends that it is identifiable sans lyrics and is currently asserting…
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EA Still on the Hook for NFL Likeness Misuse; Wins on Sanctions Motion in the Meantime

As we have previously reported, Electronic Arts Inc. continues to be under fire for trying to evade responsibility for its alleged unauthorized use of thousands of NFL players’ likenesses in its video games, most notably in Madden NFL. On March 29, 2018, the retired players filed a motion in opposition to EA’s third attempt at summary judgment. According to the retired players’ motion, they represent a proposed class of over 7,500 other retired NFL players who claim to have been similarly aggrieved by EA’s…
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Battle of the Barbershops: LeBron vs. Alabama

On April 2, 2018, LeBron James’ multimedia company, Uninterrupted, sent a stern letter to the University of Alabama for airing a sports talk series that feels strangely similar to his own new series, “The Shop.” The University of Alabama’s series, “Shop Talk,” much like James’ series, is set in a barber shop, and involves a group of people having casual conversation about an assortment of topics. James’ show, which has already gotten over four million views, features James, his friends, and other guests getting…
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Tattoo Copyright Infringement? Judge Says Too Soon To Tell

On March 30, 2018, a federal judge denied a motion in defense of a video game producer’s use of tattoo designs in its basketball-themed games. As we have previously covered, Solid Oak Sketches LLC, the owner of eight copyrighted tattoos donned by several high profile NBA players, filed suit against video game producer and distributer, Take-Two Productions, for alleged infringement. Solid Oak purchased the designs directly from the tattoo artists, and offered to allow Take-Two to use them for $819,000, or perpetually for $1.14…
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NCAA Fails to Appear for Trademark Trial, Files New Suit Entirely

On March 4, 2018, two owners of Southern California Ford dealerships filed for dismissal or staying of a trademark infringement suit initiated by the NCAA, while the parties await decision on the same issue from the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB). The NCAA initiated a suit in response to the dealerships’ uses of “Markdown Madness,” claiming the slogan could easily be confused with the NCAA’s “March Madness.” Dealership owners and defendants, Ken Grody Management, Inc. and Dixon Ford, Inc., had already been defending the…
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Legal Fees Sought After NCAA Trademark Suit Deemed “Exceptional Case”

As we have previously reported, the NCAA has recently triumphed over a year-long trademark suit when its motion requesting an entry of default was granted back in January 2018, and a default judgment rendered thereafter. The suit alleged that defendants Robert Alexander and Kizzang LLC had infringed, diluted, and unfairly competed with the NCAA by using and attempting to register the marks “April Madness” and “Final 3.” The marks were strikingly similar to the NCAA’s well-known trademarks of “March Madness” and the “Final…
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Nike OK’d to Continue Using “Jumpman” Logo

On February 27, 2018 the Ninth Circuit ruled that Nike’s use of its iconic “Jumpman” logo did not infringe on copyrights to a 1984 image of Michael Jordan, as captured by photographer Jacobus Rentmeester. Following more than three years of litigation — and though the decision was split — Nike may continue to use the image without legal repercussions. Rentmeester originally shot and used the image of Jordan in a mid-air, “grand jeté-inspired pose,” which was featured in a 1984 issue of Life
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NCAA Wins Another Trademark Infringement Suit

On January 18, 2018, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted the NCAA’s motion, and subsequently, entered a default judgement against Kizzang LLC. Kizzang provides online sweepstakes and fantasy sports entertainment services. As we have previously covered, the suit originally began in March 2017 when the NCAA opposed Kizzang’s attempt to register the marks “April Madness” and “Final 3.” The NCAA sued Kizzang alleging trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition. The NCAA complained that Kizzang’s marks infringed, diluted, and unfairly competed with the…
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Texas A&M “12th Man” Copyright Suit Continues

On January 16, 2017, author Michael J. Bynum filed a motion in response to Texas A&M’s University Athletic Department, the Texas A&M University 12th Man Foundation, and three school employees (collectively Texas A&M), motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. According to the original complaint, in January 2014, Texas A&M posted on its website the “heart” of Mr. Bynum unpublished book, 12th Man: The Life and Legend of Texas A&M’s E. King Gill, “nearly word-for-word” without Bynum’s permission. Thus, according to…
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Dispute Over the Trademark “Green Jacket” Continues

On January 10, 2018, Green Jacket Auctions filed suit in Georgia federal court and back on January 2, 2018, Green Jacket Auctions filed an identical suit in Florida federal court. Both suits seek to prevent the transfer of the domain name “greenjacketauctions.com” from Green Jacket Auctions to Augusta National, Inc., host of the annual Masters Golf Tournament. Green Jacket Auctions is an online golf memorabilia auctioneer and appraiser. The company was formed in 2006 by its two, and only employees, Ryan Carey and Bob Zafian.…
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