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.
New EU legislation known as Article 11 and Article 13 was recently passed, requiring companies such as Facebook, YouTube and Google to take more responsibility and provide compensation for copyrighted material posted on their respective sites. The law also limits how copyrighted material may be shared on online platforms. Google complains that this will chill creativity and freedom on the internet.
Walmart was recently ordered to pay Variety Stores after a jury found that the company infringed Variety’s registered trademark BACKYARD. The jury concluded that Walmart’s use of the mark in a line of grilling products constituted willful infringement, resulting in a $95.5M treble damage award.
Since 1936, Levi has been placing a small fabric tag with the name LEVI on the pockets of its denim products. The company recently filed a trademark suit against Barbour, an English clothier that has been in business since 1894. Levi claimed that the blue fabric tags placed in the pockets of Barbour clothing created a likelihood of confusion. On February 1st, a Judge dismissed the case calling Levi Strauss a “bully.”