Category Archives: Intellectual Property

Rise and Fall of an Empire (Distribution, Inc.)

In the pilot episode of Fox’s smash-hit series Empire, Cookie Lyon, explaining why, after her release from jail, she’s returning to her husband Lucious Lyon’s fictional record label, Empire Entertainment, says simply: “I’m here to get what’s mine.”  This is, of course, in reference to the formerly-jailed matriarch having taken the rap for Lucious to the tune of 17 years behind bars for drug-running while he built his music “empire.” Coincidentally, it also may sum up the thinking over the last couple of months…

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“The Blueprint” for an Infringement?

A recently-filed case in a California federal court has Jay-Z and his promoters at Live Nation wondering whether they’ll continue to reap the benefits of the 1999 hit single Big Pimpin’ or whether they’ll be “spending G’s” to clean up a potential infringement posed by a sample looped throughout one of S. Carter’s most famous tracks.  Last week, an Egyptian plaintiff named Osama Ahmed Fahmy sued Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., seeking unspecified actual damages and costs, alleging Live Nation’s continued “use” of Big Pimpin’ in…

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Duluth Trading Company Takes it Easy and Don Henley Takes Them to Court

Maybe Duluth Trading Company should’ve known better. Maybe it was just living life in the advertising fast lane. But on October 6, 2014, the Wisconsin clothing company circulated an ad to its customers imploring them to “Don a Henley and Take it Easy.” The “Henley” the ad refers to is the famous, three-button long sleeve shirt that has become a symbol of relaxation and “cool” since it was first placed on store racks. But in invoking the surname of Eagles’ co-founder and lead singer Don…

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Apple Acquisition, Beats, Sued by Bose

In Delaware court on Friday, headphone innovator Bose Corporation filed a complaint against Beats Electronics LLC, claiming a loss of business profits from infringement on five patents related to their noise cancelling technology. This lawsuit comes just two months after Apple announced its intent to purchase Beats Electronics for $3 billion.  Approval of the acquisition is anticipated in September.  In addition, Bose has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against Beats and others for allegedly infringing on the patents of technology Bose…

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Tarantino Withdraws IP Lawsuit Against Gawker Over Script Leak

Barely a few weeks ago Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino filed an amended complaint in his lawsuit against the website Gawker, alleging that the site had committed copyright infringement by allowing a copy of his latest script, The Hateful Eight, to leak on the internet. Now, Tarantino and his lawyers have decided to walk away, voluntarily dismissing the lawsuit. The controversy began after Gawker posted a downloadable PDF version of Tarantino’s script online. The two-time Oscar winner responded by filing…

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Former ‘Mob Wives’ Star Sues Grand Theft Auto V Producers

Karen Gravano, former actress on the TV show Mob Wives, and daughter of real life mobster Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, sued the Rockstar Games Co. over the use of a character in the mob-themed “Grand Theft Auto V” video game – a character Gravano asserts was modeled after her without her permission. The complaint asserts that the make-believe “Antonia Bottino” incorporated Gravano’s image and life story into the game without consulting Gravano or providing her any compensation.  The filing noted, “[n]otwithstanding the fact that…

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The Anti-Trust Suit Isn’t Over Yet for the NCAA

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken moved the Ed O’Bannon anti-trust lawsuit forward against the NCAA. On November 8, 2013, Judge Wilken certified a class of former and current college athletes suing the NCAA. The suit began in 2009, when former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA for wrongfully profiting off the names and likeness of former student athletes in EA Sports video games. The judge ruled that players can seek a verdict forcing the NCAA and its member-schools to end restrictions on…

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FX facing mark’s F-X-Xtinction?

The name seemed silly from the moment those commercials started to run. You know them — the ones with the cast members of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia speaking to each other in what sounds, to the naked ear, like Swedish. The ad spots changed as the summer season rolled out on FX, but the punchline of each promo was always the same, with one cast member saying the name of the channel that the great comedy show was moving to. Repeat after Danny DeVito:…

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SiriusXM: “It Ain’t Me Babe”

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, the principal songwriters and vocalists of 60’s pop group The Turtles, filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of New York, against SiriusXM Radio, Inc., the satellite radio giant, captioned Flo & Eddie Inc., et al. v. SiriusXM Radio, Inc.; and Does 1 through 10, No. 13 CIV 5784, in mid-August. Perhaps signaling the urgency and seriousness of the situation, this past week attorneys from the New York-based law firms Weil, Gotschal and Manges LLP…

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Run DMC(A): No Safe Harbor for Vimeo against EMI?

It started with a simple equation: “Vimeo is video + you.” Yet this formula and model for the new “user-generated content”-fueled Internet has morphed into a case that could very well test the limits of the protection afforded to “service providers” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This past week, a federal judge found that a particular “safe harbor provision” of the DMCA, which has been invoked successfully by user-generated content providers like YouTube and Veoh in their respective quests to protect and insulate…

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