Myers Berstein
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Legal News

Small time café sues Starbucks for trademark infringement

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This is not a story about unicorns and rainbows, at least not the kind your children want. This is much more sinister than that.

Did you try a limited edition Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks in April? If you did, you took a sip of an allegedly illegal drink.

Can you copyright a joke?

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Are jokes intellectual property? Can you protect them from being used without your permission? 

This is a topic of intense interest to joke writers and stand-up comedians -- as well as authors of other types of entertainment fodder. The issue is making its way to the forefront because of a lawsuit regarding late-night monologues that is heading into court later this summer.

Who Owns 'Who's On First?'

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Copyrights created in times past are sometimes challenged using today's laws. This year, the rights to a classic piece of vaudeville will take center stage before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's "Who's On First" skit was first performed on radio in 1938. The routine's true origins are a bit fuzzy as they are based on an old verbal misunderstandings style that dates back to the early 1900s.

Who's the biggest loser now?

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Jillian Michaels is well known for her role as a fitness trainer for the TV show The Biggest Loser. Since her first appearance on the show in 2004, she went on to become a celebrity fitness guru.

She is known for her tough but caring style as a trainer on television, but also for the numerous physical fitness DVDs, online videos, books and workout routines she has created.

Music copyright battle over Prince's unpublished songs

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When Prince died suddenly last year, he left behind a number of unpublished songs. Just days before the one-year anniversary of the famous musician's death, his former sound engineer and mixer, George Ian Boxill, released six songs.

Within days, a court in Prince's home state of Minnesota ordered Boxill to unpublish the songs at the request of Prince's estate. A temporary injunction stopped the release of the songs with the exception of the 'Deliverance' single, which is still available for downloading. Boxill claims that he and Prince jointly owned the songs while the estate claims that Prince had sole and exclusive rights to them.

Don't be afraid to pursue your business ideas, no matter your age

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Whether you are just out of college or have many years, jobs or careers behind you, it is never too early or too late to do what you love. Sure, there will be hurdles to jump, challenges to face and bridges to cross, but that is all part of it. As the famous author, Jack Canfield (best known for his Chicken Soup for the Soul books) once said, "Most everything you want is just outside your comfort zone".

The good news is that even though something is out of your comfort zone, it doesn't mean it is out of reach. Let's take a look at some young entrepreneurs who didn't let age or experience get in the way of their dreams.

The Unauthorized Pop-Up Art Exhibit: Artist Discovers Knock-Offs of His Artwork All Around OC

Wakefield Sculpture.jpgA Southern California artist, Donald Wakefield, was surprised to find unauthorized knock-offs of his art years after he created and gifted his one-of-a-kind granite sculpture to a colleague's son.  His original sculpture, "Untitled" (pictured on the far left), was created in 1992. 

   Approximately sixteen (16) years after Wakefield's creation, Wakefield endeavored to investigate whether other unauthorized knock-offs of his work existed.  He discovered that knock-offs of his work, and the work of other artists, were displayed throughout Orange County on properties developed by Olen Properties Corporation ("Olen") which is owned by Igor Olenicoff, a Russian billionaire.  In total, Wakefield uncovered at least six (6) unauthorized knock-offs of his sculptures on Olen properties.


Do you know how to protect your fashion designs?

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Ivanka Trump's clothing and jewelry lines have been pulled from a number of retail stores in recent weeks. Other retailers - including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls - have stopped promoting her brand, choosing instead to mix her products in with other name brands in their stores.

Nordstrom blames lagging sales in 2016 as its reason for dropping her designs, denying that the boycott instigated by Grab Your Wallet had anything to do with it. Other big-name retailers are still contemplating similar moves.

Ivanka Trump's intellectual property woes

If Trump can copy a cake, how can I protect my recipes?

President Trump's inauguration caught the eye of foodies across the country. Eyebrows were raised - not because of the sumptuous appetizers, but because of alleged food plagiarism.

Copycat cake gives rise to #CakeGate

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The cake cut with a sword by President Trump and Vice President Pence at the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball was an exact replica of a cake created for Obama's second inauguration in 2013. The original creator, Duff Goldman, a pastry chef who starred on Food Network, immediately noticed the duplication and started a brief social media storm known as #CakeGate.

It was a number of days before a bakery in Washington, D.C., revealed that an exact replica had been ordered just two weeks prior to the ball. A flurry of social media posts gave credit to Goldman, and he ultimately closed CakeGate by posting, "Group hug, y'all." An interesting fact was revealed during the process: The copycat cake was only intended as a prop and, aside from the bottom layer, was made of Styrofoam.

Are your cake designs and food creations protected from copycats?

SiriusXM and The Turtles are Not So Happy Together: Royalties Owed for Satellite Radio Use of Pre-1972 Recordings Pending Court Approval

TheTurtlesGettyImages.jpgFormer members of the 1960s rock group, The Turtles, brought a class action lawsuit against SiriusXM back in 2013 for playing their pre-1972 recordings without their permission. Just as the case was set to go to trial, SiriusXM decided to settle with the band and thousands of recording owners for a whopping $99 million.