Pausing the Game: Take-Two Seeks to Pause WWE Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive has told an Illinois federal court that it wants to pause a tattoo artist’s copyright infringement lawsuit, as a ruling on a pending summary judgment motion could decide the case. As we reported last year, tattoo artist Catherine Alexander filed a lawsuit against Take-Two and World Wrestling Entertainment, alleging that they infringed on her copyright. Between 2003 and 2008, Alexander created several unique tattoos for WWE superstar Randy Orton. While WWE allegedly offered Alexander $450,000 for the rights to use…
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Phillie Phanatic Creators Fire Back with New Filing

Wade Harrison and Bonnie Erickson, credited with designing the Philadelphia Phillies’ mascot, the Phanatic, have filed a reply to a lawsuit alleging that the creators were threatening the baseball club with pulling the team’s rights to use the mascot. The creators have described the lawsuit by the Phillies as a “weapon.” At issue is whether the creators of the Phanatic can use the Copyright Act’s termination right – a rule made to allow authors to regain control over works they created, but signed away. The…
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Peloton Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Expanded to $300 Million, Includes Over 2,000 Songs

A refreshed complaint against cycling giant, Peloton, by over 30 music publishers was approved by a federal judge, approximately doubling the number of songs and damages claimed. As we reported earlier, 30 music publishers filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Peloton in March. The company is known for its high-end stationary bicycles that allow users to stream online spinning classes. The lawsuit alleges that these classes used copyrighted music and that Peloton failed to obtain proper synchronization licenses, which are fees paid to music…
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City of Phanatic Love: Phillies Face Lawsuit Over Beloved Mascot

He’s green, a little mean, and often obscene – it’s the mascot everyone loves to hate, the infamous Phillie Phanatic. After the filing of a new federal lawsuit, however, there’s an ominous question looming of whether the 41-year-old relationship will continue in the city of brotherly love. Back on August 2, 2019, the Philadelphia Phillies filed a copyright lawsuit in federal court against Harrison/Erickson, Inc. (H/E) over the future use of the Phanatic as a mascot.  Reportedly, H/E asserts that its primary members, Bonnie and…
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Judge Rules that Documentary’s Use of “Super Bowl Shuffle” Didn’t Violate Copyright

The U.S. District Court ruled on May 30, 2019 that a documentary’s feature of the “Super Bowl Shuffle” song in its film did not violate the song’s copyright. The fan-favorite rap song, performed by Walter Payton and other Chicago Bears players, was originally made famous in 1985, when the Bears won Super Bowl XX. Snippets of the song were used in the documentary “85: The Greatest Team in Football History,” a 2016 film by Scott Prestin celebrating the Chicago Bears’ championship season. The lawsuit was…
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Pepsi Moves for Summary Judgement in 2016 Super Bowl Ad Suit

On April 1, 2019, Pepsi moved for summary judgement in the lawsuit over its 2016 Super Bowl halftime commercial that featured artist Janelle Monảe. As we have previously reported, back in July 2016, Betty Inc., a boutique Connecticut advertising agency filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion, and unfair competition against the soft drink giant PepsiCo. According to the lawsuit, Betty Inc. claimed that Pepsi’s 2016 ad was “fundamentally based” on an idea that Betty Inc. previously pitched to…
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Changing the Cycle: Peloton Removes Songs at Heart of Copyright Infringement Suit

On March 25, 2019, Peloton ceased use of particular songs in its streaming workout videos. This comes in response to facing a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by music publishers, who argue that Peloton is utilizing music from their artists without permission. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, alleges that Peloton used more than 1,000 songs impermissibly and seeks in excess of $150 million in damages. Additionally, the complaint alleges that much of Peloton’s success can be…
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MillersCoors Requests Injunction, Removal of Bud Light “Corn Syrup” Ads

On March 28, 2019, MillerCoors submitted a brief in support of its motion for a preliminary injunction against Anheuser-Busch, requesting Anheuser-Busch be stopped from airing Bud Light commercials that focus on the inclusion of corn syrup in Miller Lite and Coors Light. Per the request, MillerCoors implores that these ads have caused irreparable harm to the company’s image – an image that has taken “generations” to build. Per the lawsuit, while although MillerCoors admits the use of corn syrup in its products, an important caveat…
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Texas A&M Wants out of the “12th Man” Copyright Suit

On March 15, 2019, Texas A&M University urged U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen that the Texas A&M Athletic Department is not a separate entity and therefore is entitled to immunity in the Texas A&M “12th Man” copyright suit. As we have continued to report, in 2014, Michael J. Bynum, an author, sued Texas A&M after it 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. According to…
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SCOTUS Settles Circuit Split, Rules Copyright Owners Must Register Prior to Bringing Infringement Lawsuits

On Monday, March 4, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that a work must be registered with the U.S. Copyright office prior to the copyright owner bringing an infringement lawsuit. While registration is not required for valid copyright ownership, Section 411(a) provides that a work must be registered prior to bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit. Notably, even if the application is ultimately refused and the registration is denied, the applicant still may bring a civil action. Previously, the circuit courts had been split on what…
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