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Trademark Infringement in The Dark Knight 0

Trademark Infringement in The Dark Knight

Posted by on Jun 3, 2013 in Trademark

Trademark infringement suits happen every day and Hollywood is no exception.  On May 16th of 2013, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana decided a lawsuit against Warner Bros. for the Clean Slate program in The Dark Knight Rises.  For those who may not remember, in the movie the Clean Slate program that could erase a person’s entire history.  This of course is not to be confused with Tony Stark’s Clean Slate program to destroy his Iron Man suits. Warner Bros. was sued by Fortres Grand Corporation.  Fortres Grand started selling a real life Clean Slate in 2000 and registered a trademark for it in 2001.  The nonfictional program protects computer networks by erasing all evidence of user activity so later users see none of the previous user’s activity.  Fortres Grand sued Warner Bros. for trademark infringement for not only the movie but two websites Warner Bros. made for Rykin Data, the fictitious company which developed Clean Slate in the movie.  Fortres Grand claimed Warner Bros. committed trademark infringement by using a fictional product that was similar to their real product.  Warner Bros. responded with a motion to dismiss the case. The Court analyzed Fortres Grand’s reverse confusion theory  that Warner Bros. saturated the market...

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Is Content Aggregation Copyright Infringement?

Posted by on Apr 20, 2013 in Copyright

A federal district judge in New York ruled for the Associated Press in the case of AP v. Meltwater. The ruling, if upheld on appeal, can have large ramifications throughout the blogosphere and for content aggregators. The Associated Press, or AP, is a not-for-profit group which creates news reports from all over the country. AP’s revenue comes from licensing fees it earns by licensing uses of its articles to newspapers, websites, and other subscribers. Meltwater is an Internet media monitoring service. Their news service is a method for their clients to keep tabs on how they are portrayed in the press. AP alleged that Meltwater is infringing AP’s copyright by republishing AP articles without a license. Meltwater uses a computer program to scrape news articles on the web and provides excerpts of those stories daily to its subscribers. Meltwater did not dispute that it took content from AP stories that is protected by the Copyright Act. Instead, Meltwater claimed an affirmative defense of fair use. Meltwater argued it is a search engine, albeit one which is a closed system for subscribers only. This case revolves around thirty-three Registered Articles of the AP which Meltwater copied and then delivered excerpts of to its subscribers. Meltwater News employs automated computer programs...

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Kirtsaeng v. Wiley: Supreme Court Creates New Class of Business Venture

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Copyright, First Sale Doctrine

The Supreme Court decided this week the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. The opinion will undoubtedly have a large impact on intellectual property law. This case deals with a Thai national who was subsidizing his college tuition in the U.S. by having his relatives in Thailand buy textbooks for cheap, shipping them to him in the US, and then selling the text books to Americans on sites such as eBay. He made about a $100,000 profit off this enterprise. Eventually, the publisher caught wind, and sued. This enterprise is known as the “gray market”. Exploiting the price differential between the US and overseas can be quite profitable. The legality of this practice differs depending on the type of good being sold. Prior to this ruling, on copyrighted goods purchased overseas, most judges were ruling against the gray marketeers. Kirtsaeng argued that the ‘first sale doctrine’ creates an exception that validates his actions. The “first sale doctrine” in copyright law permits the owner of a lawfully purchased copy of a copyrighted work to resell it. Once you buy a copy of something, you own that copy. You can do as you wish with it. This is codified at 17 U.S.C. § 109(a) of the Copyright Act of...

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Importing Copyrighted Works, Kirtsaeng v. Wiley and Your Rights to Your Property

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Copyright

The Supreme Court has recently heard arguments in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. The opinion is expected soon, and regardless of how the court rules, it will have a large impact on intellectual property law. This case deals with a Thai national who was subsidizing his college tuition in the U.S. by having his relatives in Thailand buy textbooks for cheap, shipping them to him in the US, and then selling the text books to Americans on sites such as eBay. He made about a $100,000 profit off this enterprise. Eventually, the publisher caught wind, and sued. This enterprise is known as the “grey market”. Exploiting the price differential between the US and overseas can be quite profitable. The legality of this practice differs depending on the type of good being sold. At trial, and on appeal to the 2nd Circuit, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Kirtsaeng, 654 F.3d 210, (2d Cir. 2011), Kirtsaeng argued that the ‘first sale doctrine’ makes his actions legal. The “first sale doctrine” in copyright law permits the owner of a lawfully purchased copy of a copyrighted work to resell it. Once you buy a copy of something, you own that copy. You can do as you wish with...

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NASA DMCA Takedown 0

NASA DMCA Takedown

Posted by on Aug 6, 2012 in Copyright

If you missed last night’s NASA landing and tried to check it out this morning, you may have had some trouble. NASA posted a 13 minute excerpt of the Curiosity Mars rover’s landing on their official YouTube channel. Within a matter of minutes, the video was taken down with a message explaining the video contained copyrighted material claimed by Scripps Local News. NASA’s video should not have been removed, since, not only did they create it, but it’s also public domain content. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows YouTube to escape liability if they remove content when someone claims to hold a copyright to it. The DMCA then allows users to submit a counter claim if they believe their content does not infringe on an existing copyright and was wrongfully removed. It’s unclear exactly how or why Scripps filed the complaint, or whether YouTube took it down automatically because their system believed it copied an existing video. Scripps Local News released an apology for the problem through a spokesperson for their parent company, E.W. Scripps Company. This is not the first NASA video that has been taken down on a claim by Scripps. Bob Jacobs, NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications said that DMCA complaints routinely disrupt NASA’s online...

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Electronic Arts v. Zynga: Is it a clone? 0

Electronic Arts v. Zynga: Is it a clone?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in Computer Law, Copyright

Video game publisher Electronic Arts  (EA) has challenged video game creator Zynga in California Federal Court.  It appears that Electronic Arts suspects Zynga has been borrowing a few too many elements from its game, The Sims Social, and incorporated those elements into the Zynga game, The Ville.  From EA’s complaint it appears that various design elements of The Sims Social were copied directly into the Zynga game.  A few months ago it would have seemed that EA had an uphill battle on their hands but a recent case may have shifted the verdict in EA’s favor.  That recent case involved cloning the popular game Tetris (See Cloning Tetris).  It would be wholly unsurprising if EA’s recent action was spurred by the verdict of the Tetris case, firstly because of the many common elements with EA’s case against Zynga and the Tetris case and secondly and more importantly, the connection that EA has with the owner of the rights to Tetris.  It may be that EA’s actions against Zynga were started as a result of the Tetris case or it may be that the Tetris case was a result of some agreement that EA has with the owners of the rights to the Tetris game. The Tetris case and the...

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