1. Fake Hobbits! Branded Babies! Art Forgeries! IP Law Updates! Coming Soon to a Screen Near You…

    Who can hold their breath underwater for longer than it takes to read EVERY update on this page? Who read these updates while saving an Alaska-bound cruise ship filled with vacationing paralegals from a giant Australian squid? Who can speed faster than a train AND faster than someone sharing an update on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook via Hootsuite?

    Answer? No idea. But don’t throw out that popcorn quite yet — here’s a roundup of intellectual property law updates from the arts and entertainment world that’s sure to leave you on the edge of your seat:

    SORT OF THE RINGS: Will Trademark Fair Use Protect Age of the Hobbits? (Foley Hoag LLP):

    “In August of this year, Warner Brothers finally announced the release of Age of the Hobbits, Peter Jackson’s long-awaited follow-up to his Lord of the Rings trilogy, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous fantasy novels. Age of the Hobbits tells the tale of a clever group of diminutive Indonesian tribesmen who convince Chinese actress Bai Ling to save them from a hoard of cannibals mounted on flying Komodo dragons.” Read on»

    Haunted House Doesn’t Scare Off Filmmaker (Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP):

    “[A] production company approached the owner of the Winchester Mystery House … to request permission to film there.  The owner turned it down, stating that another company had already acquired the rights to the Winchester story.  The filmmakers went ahead and made their movie anyway, calling it Haunting of Winchester HouseWinchester Mystery House, LLC v. Global Asylum, Inc., represents a classic battle seen frequently in the world of entertainment litigation:  the trademark owner who wishes to preserve his exclusive rights to a particular name vs. the artist who wishes to use that name as part of a creative work.” Read on»

    “Winchester Mystery House, LLC v. Global Asylum, Inc.” in IP/Entertainment Law Weekly Case Update for Motion Picture Studios and Television Networks (Loeb & Loeb LLP):

    “… the court found that plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to raise a triable issue of fact concerning its interference claims. While plaintiff’s response to defendant’s initial inquiry indicated that plaintiff had just entered an exclusive agreement, it did not identify the production company, describe the terms or indicate that it related to the use of trademarks. Similarly, the cease-and-desist letters did not refer to any contractual or other economic relationship between plaintiff and any third party. As a result, the court found that plaintiff could not establish that defendant had knowledge of plaintiff’s commercial relationships or that defendant intended to disrupt these relationships.” Read on»

    The Scariest Day of the Year…for Legal Claims Too (Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP):

    “William Faulkner famously wrote, ‘“The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.’ Woody Allen-mouthpiece Owen Wilson less-famously said, in 2011’s Midnight in Paris, ‘The past is not dead!  Actually, it’s not even past.  You know who said that?  Faulkner.  And he was right.  And I met him, too.  I ran into him at a dinner party.’ And Faulkner’s estate is now infamously saying that, if you use Faulkner’s line (ish) in a movie, with attribution, you have broken the law.” Read on»

    IP/Entertainment Law Weekly Case Update for Motion Picture Studios and Television Networks — November 16, 2012 (Loeb & Loeb LLP):

    “Circuit court affirms summary judgment in favor of producers and creators of motion picture Alien v. Predator, finding that plaintiff (the author of screenplay The Lost Continent) failed to prove copyright infringement (no evidence of access and no substantial similarity), and while finding that the Copyright Act did not preempt the breach of implied contract claim, the court found no evidence of the existence of a contract.” Read on»

    Fifty Shades of Gray Market Artwork (BakerHostetler):

    “According to a recent report in the New York Times, the proliferation of quality forgeries is a growing problem in the art world.  The problem is exacerbated by the failure of the U.S. legal system to effectively mark or destroy works identified as fakes, or otherwise remove them from the market.  Instead, the bogus art often slips back into the marketplace, and onto the walls of even high-end collectors.” Read on»

    Forget about Georgia - Ray Charles’ Children have Copyright Royalties on their mind (Heenan Blaikie LLP):

    “When Ray Charles passed away in 2004, his twelve children had accepted a $500,000 irrevocable trust and agreed that they would not seek anything further from his estate following his death. Now, some eight years later, his children are reneging on this deal and have sought to terminate the assignment of copyrights on Ray’s songs. This posthumous litigation has been heavily contested by the Ray Charles Foundation, which holds many of Ray’s copyright interests including famous songs such as ‘Georgia on My Mind’ and ‘I Got a Woman’.” Read on»

    P. Diddy Has Something to Sing About (Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.):

    “P. Diddy sought to register the mark DIDDY-DIRTY MONEY for many categories ranging from a series of musical sound recordings, printed materials, streaming audio material, video material and entertainment services. In addition, the registration included ‘clothing, namely, t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, jackets, sweatshirts, headwear.’ When a roadblock arose in the form of the DIRTY MONEY mark owned by All Surface Entertainment, Inc., P. Diddy went on the offensive and filed a petition to cancel the registration for the mark. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board granted the petition.” Read on»

    I got 99 problems and the Patent and Trademark Office is one: Branding your baby (Baldwins):

    “Music superstars Beyoncé and Jay-Z have hit the headlines this year for applying to register the name of their firstborn child, Blue Ivy, as a trade mark. When a Boston wedding planner succeeded recently in registering her business’s name, BLUE IVY, it was widely reported that the famous couple’s application had been abandoned… Will Beyoncé and Jay-Z still be able to turn their daughter’s name into a brand?” Read on»

    No BLUE IVY Registration? Not so fast… (Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.):

    “I did a pretty cursory search of the Trademark Office’s records, and I was unable to find any other trademark filings for celebrity baby names in the aftermath of the BLUE IVY CARTER filing (at least with respect to children’s apparel).  So even in the age of Kardashian and Snooki offspring, this (thankfully) doesn’t seem to be a trend – yet.  Celebrity children increasingly have value these days as they get more and more attention, and even some parody usage like Suri’s Burn Book.” Read on»

    Would You Rather Pay $8.6 Million in Damages or Appeal that Award? (Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.):

    “The jury is in, literally, and unanimously found that [Spin Master’s] Would You Rather…? trademark is protectable and that Zobmondo infringed it to the tune of $5.1 million in compensatory damages. The jury also found Zobmondo liable for $3.5 million in punitive damages. According to Law360′s coverage, Zobmondo intends to appeal, and it sounds like the appeal will focus on the jury’s determination that the Would You Rather…? trademark is protectable as a mark.” Read on»

    Celebrity Trademark Watch: Did Tim Tebow “Trademark” his Signature Move? (Foley Hoag LLP):

    “Within the past few days a number of news outlets, television programs, websites, and blogs have been reporting that former Denver Bronco and current New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has received a federal trademark registration for his signature, mid-game prayer gesture in which he drops to one knee while placing a fist against his forehead… Some reports speculated that ‘trademarking’ a gesture was setting a new, potentially dangerous precedent.  Could Mr. Tebow extract a licensing fee or sue for infringement if you dared to tebow without his permission?” Read on»

    Top Sports IP Plays of the Year - Part 2 (Lewis and Roca LLP):

    “In 2011, NBA star Gilbert Arenas (currently in a contract dispute and considering playing in China for the 2012-2013 NBA season) sued Shed Media, producer of the reality show “Basketball Wives: Los Angeles” for various causes of action, including misappropriation of likeness and rights of publicity… Basketball Wives features a cast of women who have or have had romantic relationships with professional basketball players. Arenas sued Shed over its casting of his ex-fiance on the show.” Read on»

    Assassin’s Creed III: Evil George Washington Edition? (Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.):

    “Part of the downloadable content for the [Assassin’s Creed III] involves an alternative scenario in which our hero Ratonhnhaké:ton has to dethrone the tyrannical George Washington after he declares himself King George I of America following the war.  Which got me thinking, ‘Hey, can they do that?’ ‘That,’ being use a historic figure in a bad light to make money for, in this case, the game-maker Ubisoft.  As with most legal questions, the answer is ‘it depends.’” Read on»


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