Category Archives: Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Trademark

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … barber? Barbershop Sued by DC Comics over Superman Marks

DC Comics has filed a trademark infringement suit against a Florida barbershop owner in federal court.  The suit accuses the owners of “Supermen Fades to Fros LLC” of using signs, promotion materials and logos which bear DC Comics’ trademarked “Superman” materials. DC Comics requested that the shop owner cease the use of the marks on multiple occasions without result.  DC’s complaint notes that “DC has never at any time authorized defendants to utilize the infringing promotions in conjunction with any barbershop business and/or the sale…

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Ghost Rider Creator Consigned to Copyright Hell with Appellate Decision

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest (for the Southern District of New York) by refusing to revive copyright claims brought by comic book writer and “Ghost Rider” creator Gary Friedrich.  The ruling confirmed that Friedrich had both (a) signed over whatever rights he had in the character in a 1978 agreement with Marvel, and (b) alternatively, had waited too long to sue over those rights and could therefore not dispute…

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Author Fails in ‘Avatar’ Copyright Suit Against Cameron and Fox

U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real recently granted director James Cameron’s and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.’s motion to dismiss in a copyright action, holding that a disgruntled author and screenwriter was unable to demonstrate that “Avatar” was “substantially similar” to his novel, “Bats and Butterflies.” “Bats and Butterflies” is a story about a bullied boy who travels to a magical land called Altair where he befriends a tribe of aliens that look like butterflies.  At the end of the story, the boy battles against…

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Writers Call Foul on FX Over ‘The League’

Writers Joseph Balsamo and Peter Ciancarelli filed a copyright infringement suit in the U.S. District Court in New York against cable network FX, accusing the network of using their idea for a television show as the basis for its popular program “The League.” “The League” premiered in October 2009, and the fourth season is scheduled to air next month. According to the writers, they filed a television treatment titled “The Commissioner” with the Writers Guild of America in December 2006.  The treatment was also posted…

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Sinatra’s Estate Prevails in Trademark (Hot)Dog Fight with Food Truck Owner

On September 12, 2012, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s appeals board upheld the denial of an attempt to trademark the name “Franks Anatra,” holding that it wrongfully referenced the famous singer Frank Sinatra and was likely to cause confusion or otherwise imply a false association with the iconic American singer. The estate of Sinatra and Frank Sinatra Enterprises LLC led the opposition toMichiganhot dog truck owner Bill Loizon’s application noting that they currently owned the rights to three trademarks which registered the name Frank…

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Usher ‘Caught Up’ in Copyright Infringement Suit Over Single

Usher has been slapped with a copyright lawsuit in Illinois federal court by three individuals who claim that Usher and his record company stole their material for Usher’s hit single “Caught Up.” Musicians Edwards, Moses, and McClean allege that shortly after they played their song “Caught Up” for Michael Barackman, Senior Director of A&R at Arista Records in October 2002, Usher released his hit album “Confessions,” featuring his hit single “Caught Up.”  According to the musicians, Usher and his record companies used the same melody,…

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Memorabilia Collector Settles Copyright Infringement Suit by Jackson Estate

On September 4, 2012, the estate of Michael Jackson agreed to settle the late singer’s copyrights and misappropriation of likeness claims against a memorabilia collector for $2.5 million.  The case was set to proceed to trial on September 5, 2012. The settlement comes almost a month after U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson granted the estate’s motion for partial summary judgment, which found Howard Mann and Vintage Pop Media Group LLC liable for copyright infringement (and several other claims). The estate’s suit accused Defendants of…

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Disney Suit Seeks to End the Party for Seller of Unlicensed Character Costumes

Recently, Walt Disney Co., Sanrio, Co., Ltd. and DC Comics filed suit in federal district court against Party Animals LLC (a business offering costumes and party entertainment) alleging that Party Animals infringed on various trademarks and copyrights owned by the Plaintiffs by renting character costumes produced without permission in violation of the Plaintiffs’ intellectual property rights.   Some of the alleged infringing costumes named by the suit include Winnie the Pooh, Batman, Superman, and Hello Kitty. Party Animals’s website plainly states that it has no licenses…

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Weinsteins’ Suit Against ‘Scream’ Writer Williamson is about the Contract, not the Copyrights

On August 23, 2012, California Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy refused to dismiss a suit brought by The Weintstein Co., LLC against ‘Scream’ writer Kevin Williamson.  In essence, the ruling resolved a dispute over whether the action was preempted by the Copyright Act, or was, in fact, a simple contract dispute.  Judge Murphy held that the case could proceed as it is based in contract and The Weinstein Co.had not alleged any copyright infringement or any other acts forbidden by federal law. In its…

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Boom – Trademark Infringement Case Against Nike Survives, For Now

On July 3, 2012, Ohio federal Magistrate Judge Nancy A. Vecchiarelli recommended that part of a trademark infringement case against Nike, Inc. survive a motion to dismiss in a trademark infringement suit brough by Edward W. Tovey.  Mr. Tovey claims that Nike infringed on a line of sports clothing he allegedly developed with LeBron James’ girlfriend in 2009.  In a recommendation to the district court, Judge Vecchiarelli stated that, contrary to Nike’s assertions, Tovey’s federal trademark infringement and unfair competition claims (as well as some…

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