Category Archives: Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Trademark

Funk Band Finally Listens to Hip-Hop, Files Suit Over Sample Used in 2003 Track

1970’s funk band Bloodstone filed suit in Missouri federal court on May 20, 2013 against Universal Music Group, Inc. (UMG) for copyright infringement of their 1979 song “I’m Just Doing My Job.” The Complaint, filed by members of Bloodstone alleges that UMG gave rappers T.I. and Kanye West a license to sample the 1979 song for use in TI’s hit “Doin’ My Job” without permission from the band. Bloodstone members Charles Love, Harry Williams, and Charles McCormick retain the sound recording and composition rights for…

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Classic Novel at the Center of New Copyright Battle

On May 3, 2013,  “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Nelle Harper Lee sued her former literary agent Samuel Pinkus and agency Veritas Media, Inc., accusing them of deceiving her into handing over the copyright to the book for nothing and wrongfully retaining the related commissions that Lee was entitled to. The back story is a relatively complicated one: Lee’s complaint asserts that Pinkus took advantage of his father-in-law’s ailing health back in 2002, snagging all the father-in-law’s clients from his literary agency McIntosh & Otis,…

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Songwriters Seek ‘Somebody’ to Sue – Hit Bieber and Usher with $10 Million Copyright Infringement Suit

On May 2, 2013, Justin Bieber, Usher, and Universal Music Corporation were slapped with a $10 million copyright infringement lawsuit by Virginia songwriters Devin Copeland (a.k.a. ‘De Rico’) and Mareio Overton.  Plaintiffs accuse Bieber and the others of stealing their song “Somebody to Love” – a song which Bieber released as a hit single in 2010.  Usher and Bieber later collaborated to release a remix of the song. Plaintiffs allege they handed the song over to music industry scouts in 2008, and it was then…

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Nintendo Clobbered by Tomita with $30 Million Verdict in Patent Litigation

On March 13, 2013, a jury awarded a $30.2 million dollar verdict to Tomita Technologies International Inc. in its patent infringement with the Nintendo Co. Ltd.  Tomita’s suit accused Nintendo of infringing on its “Stereoscopic imaging picking up and display system based upon optical axes cross-point information” patent (which displays 3-D images viewable without special glasses) by using the technology in Nintendo’s 3DS hand-held video game system.  . Seijiro Tomita (the founder of Tomita Technologies) spent 30 years working at Sony as an engineer/inventor, and…

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NFL’s Squeeze Play Forces “Harbowl” Trademark Owner to Forfeit Rights

Last year Roy Fox got to thinking – what if NFL Head Coaches and brothers Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens) ended up facing each other in the Super Bowl?  With that thought in mind, Fox went out and spent over $1,000 to file trademark applications for the terms “Harbowl” and “Harbaugh Bowl.”  The NFL was not pleased by Fox’s play.  Shortly before the 2012-2013 season began, the League contacted Fox with concerns that his trademarks could become confused with the…

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Khroma Kroma Kardashian: Makeup Artist Claims Perceived Endorsement by Reality Stars Devalues her Cosmetics

Lee Tillett, an Altamonte Springs makeup artist in Florida, is suing the Kardashian sisters — Kim, Kourtney and Khloe — and Boldface Group Inc. for $10 million in trademark infringement counterclaims, alleging they stole the name of her cosmetics line. Tillett filed her lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles. Tillett filed a claim last year for copyright infringement, but Boldface sought a declaratory judgment in November to use the Khroma name despite Tillett’s trademark to the name Kroma. Tillett’s counterclaim was filed…

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Girl in Hot Water: Songwriter Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement

Alicia Keys is being sued by songwriter Earl Shuman for allegedly sampling a portion of his 1960’s composition, Hey There Lonely Girl, in her new single Girl on Fire. Keys’ song, which was released on September 4, has risen to No. 21 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart. On December 10, Shuman brought suit in the Central District of California claiming that the 31 year old singer/songwriter never sought permission to sample from the 1962 song composed by Shuman and his writing partner,…

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Pandora Opens Box of Copyright Issues with Proposal to Congress

Over one hundred artists signed an open letter to be published in this weekend’s Billboard Magazine, making it abundantly clear that they oppose Pandora’s stance on The Internet Radio Fairness Act, which would decrease the royalty rates paid by Internet radio companies. Signees include crowd favorites such as Katy Perry, Rihanna, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Buffett and Billy Joel. The artists grouped together to ask Pandora why they are begging Congress to step in and “gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon” when they…

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Judge Tells Plaintiff to ‘Just Go Away’ in Mötley Crüe Copyright Suit

Recently, U.S. District Judge John F. Grady dismissed a copyright infringement suit brought against the band Mötley Crüe in alleging the band improperly used copyrighted photos of themselves – photos acquired and copyrighted by Plaintiff Ron Toma in 2008 – as backdrops for recent rock concerts.  Toma filed suit against the band in the Northern District of Illinois. Judge Grady’s decision noted that the band had only “sporadic” contacts with Illinois, making the state an inappropriate forum for the action, stating “[t]hese contacts are extensive…

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