Picture Imperfect: Polaris Brings Suit Against Fox Affiliate Over Photo Usage of Aaron Hernandez’s Fiancée

On November 14, 2018, Polaris Images Corp. filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Fox affiliate Tribune Broadcasting Co. Per the complaint, a Tribune-owned website published a story regarding the late NFL player Aaron Hernandez’s pregnant former fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, and used a photograph of Jenkins therein. According to the article, entitled “Aaron Hernandez’s fiancée Shayanna Jenkins announces pregnancy,” the caption beneath the photograph in question credits “Shayanna Jenkins Instagram.”  However, Polaris claims “Tribute did not license the photograph from plaintiff for its article,…
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Again WWE and Take-Two Interactive Move to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

On October 23, 2018, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (Take-Two) again moved to dismiss a suit brought by Catherine Alexander, a tattoo artist for professional WWE wrestler Randy Orton. According to the WWE and Take-Two, Alexander’s “amended complaint does nothing to remedy the grave deficiencies of her prior pleading.” As we have previously reported, in April, 2018, Alexander sued the WWE and Take-Two. Alexander claimed that several video games in the WWE 2K series illegally copied Alexander’s copyrighted tattoos…
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Retired NFL Players Denied Class Certification in Copyright Lawsuit Against EA

On August 17, 2018, a group of retired NFL players was denied class certification in California Federal Court for the second time. As we have previously reported, the retired NFL players claimed that EA created physically and biographically similar avatars of the former NFL players and used them in their famous Madden NFL video game. According to the former players, EA used the player’s actual positions, teams, accurately pointed to the players’ retired statuses, and EA publicized their use by coining certain features of…
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Bizarre Inside Edition Lawsuit that Involves the Murder of a Former NFL Player

On August 6, 2018, Billups P. Percy sued Inside Edition Inc. after Inside Edition allegedly used Percy’s copyrighted video of Anthony Hayes. On December 26, 2005, Percy, a Louisiana-based photojournalist, video recorded Anthony Hayes wielding a knife while surrounded by New Orleans police officers. Hayes was shot and killed by a police officer after he lunged at a police lieutenant. Percy later registered the video with the U.S. Copyright Office and he was given rights to the video as the sole owner of all “right,…
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WWE and Take-Two Interactive Move to Dismiss Tattoo Artist Copyright Infringement

On July 9, 2018, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (Take-Two) moved to dismiss the suit brought by Catherine Alexander, a tattoo artist for professional WWE wrestler Randy Orton. As we have previously reported, Alexander, sued WWE and Take-Two claiming that several video games in the WWE 2K series illegally copied Alexander’s copyrighted tattoos in the Randy Orton game avatar. Between 2003 and 2008, Alexander created several tattoos for Orton, including tattoos on his upper back, forearms, upper arms, and…
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University of Arkansas Files Suit Against Counterfeit Retailers

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the University of Arkansas’ Board of Trustees filed a suit seeking to stop a “massive network” of counterfeit websites selling fake or unregistered Razorback merchandise. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court, in the Northern District of Illinois. Defendants are not named, but are described as retailers “residing in China” or “other foreign jurisdictions”, operating “without any authorizations or licenses”. These phony retailers are extremely successful, as the complaint alleges that they receive tens of millions of visits per…
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Precedent Setting Copyright Case Finally Comes to an End

The precedent setting case Varsity Brands, Inc. v. Star Athletica, LLC, was decided by the United States Supreme Court in March 2017. As we have previously covered, the decision held that a cheerleading uniform’s decorative elements may be protected under copyright law. The ruling provided some resolution regarding the disagreement over when these types of designs are eligible for protection under U.S. copyright law. However, after the decision, the court asked the parties to prepare a joint report setting forth a suggested path…
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Supreme Court Grants Cheerleading Apparel Manufacturer’s Request: Uniform’s Decorative Elements are Copyrightable

The U.S. Supreme Court held that a cheerleading uniform’s decorative elements may be protected under copyright law — a ruling aimed at providing some resolution regarding the disagreement over when these types of designs are eligible for protection under U.S. copyright law. As background, in 2010, Varsity Brands, Inc., the country’s largest cheerleading supplier, accused one of its rivals, Star Athletica, of copying the key elements of its uniform’s design, including stripes, chevrons, and other graphic elements that Varsity had registered with the Copyright…
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Judge Finds Chink in IP Suit Over Iron Man’s Armor

On March 27, 2017, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken dismissed in part and granted in part Walt Disney’s Marvel Entertainment’s bid to dismiss a copyright suit by Horizon Comics Productions Inc. over Iron Man’s body armor design. The lawsuit commenced in April 2015 by Horizon’s owners Ben and Ray Lai, who claimed Iron Man’s armor was based upon their 2001 comic book series Radix. In addition, the Lai brothers claimed that Marvel’s promotional poster for Iron Man 3 copied a promotional piece of…
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