Myers Berstein
Toll Free Communication

April 2015 Archives

Bob Marley's Heirs Take on Intellectual Property Infringers

Celebrity product endorsements can create a number of interesting intellectual property issues. Take, for example, the common image of Bob Marley on T-shirts and other merchandise, many of which are printed without permission of the owners of Bob Marley's likeness - his children. Tired of their father's over-exposure, and wanting to protect their father's image, the children of Bob Marley and their licensee (one company is licensed to use the image and likeness of the famous Rastafarian) have sued various companies for using Mr. Marley's image on clothing and merchandise without their permission.

Downloading Images to Your Website and Potential Copyright Infringement

You're updating your website and find a few nice photos on Google Images. No harm in downloading them and putting them on your website, right? Wrong. And a Washington, D.C. patent lawyer has just learned the hard way that using stock photos without permission can be costly. Masterfile Corp., a photo supplier, alleged that the lawyer illegally used two files of people dressed in suits on his website. The licensing company sought $150,000 in damages for using the photos without permission. The suit settled for a small sum.

Can an Heir Sue for Copyright Infringement?

A new case involving the intellectual property rights of the heirs of the composer of a popular television show may test the limits of who may sue for copyright infringement. In late March 2015, the children of Morton Stevens, the award-winning TV and film music composer who created the theme music for the show Hawaii Five-0, sued CBS for copyright infringement in federal court in Los Angeles.

What are Trade Secrets?

Trade secrets are information of any kind, including a formula, pattern, method, technique, or process, with two specific qualities. First, the information must have "independent economic value from not being generally known to the public." Second, the trade secret's owner must take "reasonable steps to maintain the secrecy of the information." A judge or jury would likely analyze this information, examining such factors as sensitivity, who needs access to the information, and whether employees of the company with the trade secrets were actually following internal procedures for protecting information. For more on what makes a trade secret, click here.

Innovation Act: Congress To Stand Up to Patent Trolls?

Patent law in the U.S. might change once again: as of February 2015, Congress is reconsidering the "Innovation Act," a bill that could implement several changes, including making it difficult for non-practicing entities (also known as "patent trolls") to claim their patents have been infringed upon. Patent trolls usually buy up patents and then use them against unsuspecting businesses, without contributing anything to the economy themselves. Often, defendants will simply settle the case as a way to avoid further costly litigation. It is easy to see, then, why many argue that patent trolls engage in abusive litigation tactics, which harms the economy and wastes resources.

Issues Faced by the Food Industry

Protecting intellectual property is very important in the food industry. Recently, Ina Garten, otherwise known as the Food Network cooking show host, the "Barefoot Contessa," sued a California company called OFI Imports, Inc. for selling unauthorized "look-alike" frozen dinners. Although Garten asked OFI to stop selling the dinners, which were manufactured by "Contessa Premium Foods," the company refused and eventually went out of business. Garten's lawsuit seeks to stop further sales and award damages.