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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Oprah Free to Say “Own Your Power”

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty ruled that Oprah Winfrey may use the phrase “Own Your Power,” ending a trademark battle that started in 2011.  Ruling in favor of Oprah, the judge found that Oprah demonstrated that the phrase “lack[ed] the requisite distinctiveness” to warrant trademark protection. The suit was brought by Simone Kelly-Brown, a motivational speaker and business coach, who runs Own Your Power Communications, Inc.  She argued that the phrase was registered in 2008.  Then in 2010, the Oprah…
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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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“I’m just here so I won’t get fined” Trademarked by Lynch in Response to Fans

Last week, Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch filed a trademark of the now-household phrase “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” which he popularized during Super Bowl XLIX media day. Marshawn Lynch has had a storied history with the media, giving reporters little to nothing worth printing during interviews.  Some say it is selfish for him to withhold his opinion from his fan base, and some say it is unfair to force the football player to speak about the game.  Either…
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Lawyers for Redskins Put Different Spin on Trademark Case

The Redskins filed a motion to overturn the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s decision to cancel the team’s trademark because it infringes on freedom of speech rights and “unfairly singles the team out.” The lawyers for the team argued that the cancellation decision “unfairly singles out the Redskins for disfavored treatment based solely on the content of its protected speech, interfering with the ongoing public discourse over the Redskins’ name by choosing sides and cutting off the debate.  This the U.S. Constitution does not tolerate.”…
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Washington Redskins Argue a Violation of their Free Speech

The Washington Redskins fought back against the recent decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office cancelling the team’s  trademark protection over the use of the term ‘redskin’ as many Native American groups find it disparaging. The court papers filed Monday by the team argue the law denying registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional because it infringes on the team’s First Amendment right to free speech.  The team’s attorneys argue the cancellation of the trademarks disfavors the team and singles them out, “interfering with the…
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English Car Maker Rolls Out Legal Team to Protect its Trademark from Rapper Royce Rizzy

Last Wednesday, English automaker Rolls-Royce filed a lawsuit in the US District of New Jersey last week against up-and-coming rapper, Royce Rizzy, for trademark infringement.  The lawsuit stems from the rapper’s use of the Royce trademark and the “RR Badge.” The lawsuit claims that Atlanta based Royce Rizzy, otherwise known as Robert Davis, has been using the Rolls Royce trademarks to benefit his rapping career.  The luxury automaker cited to his YouTube channel advertisements, his Facebook page, his website, and a “Team Rolls Royce” t-shirt…
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US Gov’t Joins Fight Against “Redskins” Trademark

On Friday, January 9, the United States Department of Justice filed a notice of intervention with the Eastern District of Virginia to intervene in the lawsuit between Washington’s football team and the Native American group, who successfully petitioned to have the team’s trademarks revoked. The lawsuit stems from a June ruling by the US Patent & Trademark Office that revoked six of the Washington football team’s trademarks as the term “Redskin” was determined to be disparaging to a substantial amount of Native Americans during the…
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Benihana and Benny Hunna Battle For Naming Rights

Benihana, the self-proclaimed “leading Asian themed restaurant chain in the world” (see Notice of Opposition), has brought it’s a-game in a trademark battle with Mississippi’s hottest up and coming rapper and entertainment mogul, Benny Hunna. Benny Hunna, born Benny Hodges, is an aspiring rapper hailing from Mississippi who filed for a trademark of his rap name with the US PTO in May 2013 to use it as the name of the entertainment empire he is currently building.  His name, however, caught the ear of…
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Creedence Clearwater Mark Revisited

There’s a bad moon on the rise once again for John Fogerty.  Fogerty, the former lead singer and guitarist for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Creedence Clearwater Revival, and a man who holds the distinction as being perhaps the only musician in the history of recorded music to be sued for allegedly plagiarizing his own recording in another one of his own recordings, finds himself feelin’ blue again, having been sued last week by his surviving former bandmates, Doug Clifford and Stu…
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