Actor James Dean died in 1955 at the age of 24 but that has not stopped him from appearing in the new action film “Finding Jack.” The film is set to feature Dean in a co-starring role, using computer images generated from old footage. While the producers and film makers appear to have legally acquired Dean’s personality rights, many feel the role does a disservice to Dean’s legacy.
A Monsanto employee was recently indicted for theft of trade secrets. The Chinese national, Haitao Xiang, allegedly resigned from his position, purchased a one way ticket to China and was arrested at the airport with Monsanto trade secrets in his possession. Xiang received his PhD in agricultural engineering within the United States, following the same path as many others accused of similar crimes.
Canadian Parliament is considering whether building owners can control the reproduction of a famous building’s likeness. Author James Bow was set to release a new book featuring a cover-art collage which included an image of the CN Tower, a large radio antenna and tourist attraction located in Toronto. A representative from CN Tower requested the removal of the artwork from the book claiming that it created a commercial link between the book and CN Tower.
On October 29th, the NCAA announced it will begin a process that will eventually allow athletes to profit from their image, name and likeness. For years student athletes have used their talents to negotiate college scholarships but many see this as insufficient compensation in light of the enormous revenue that sports bring to these universities. The NCAA announcement may allow students to profit from their rights of publicity much as professional athletes do.
In 1996, Blackbeard’s famed ship Queen Anne’s Revenge was discovered by a private salvage company. A film crew was subsequently hired to capture the expedition. The State of North Carolina used both the videos and images captured during the shoot without a license and a copyright suit was filed. North Carolina is defending itself by (i) claiming that sovereign immunity provides an exemption and (ii) that the Copyright Clarification Remedy Act (which would repeal sovereign immunity to states) is overly broad and therefore unconstitutional. The 4th Circuit has agreed. The Supreme Court is set to hear the arguments in early November.
Copyright Office continues to explore a variety of options to streamline the copyright process and reduce registration times.
British researchers are claiming that an artificial intelligence (AI) system invented both a complex system for interlocking food containers as well as a new warning light. The researchers have filed patents in the US as well as other countries, claiming the AI as the inventor. This would be the first time AI is credited as the inventor… patent agencies will have to determine whether a tool constructed by humans can invent on its own. And if AI is deemed a true inventor entity, how will this impact other areas of intellectual property law?
More and more of my clients have been receiving trademark scam letters purporting to be from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. These letters often appear official in nature and include scary notations such as “CANCELLATION PENDING.” These companies have defruaded trademark owners of millions. If you have received this type of note, the following article includes some things to look for such as exorbitant fees or fast approaching deadlines.
Draft legislation addressing patent eligibility is expected sometime this fall. The hope is that the bill will clarify patent eligibility issues and tackle inventions classified as abstract ideas, laws of nature and natural phenomena.
Proposed changes to section 101 are expected to broaden patentability for “any invention or discovery that provides specific and practical utility in any field of technology through human intervention.”
Proctor & Gamble has recently filed two trademark applications for “WTF” and “FML” – two colorful acronyms containing the word “F*CK”. These marks would have formerly been rejected on the basis that they are “scandalous” or “immoral;” however, recent decisions validating registration of THE SLANTS (a band with Asian members) and REDSKINS (an NFL team) has changed the trademark landscape. A recent Federal Court decision noted, “the First Amendment protects private expression, even private expression which is offensive to a substantial composite of the general public,” holding that FUCT is a registerable trademark.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the USPTO’s policy of rejecting “scandalous” marks is a violation of the First Amendment, making such trademark refusals an unconstitutional violation of free speech.