Myers Berstein
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May 2015 Archives

How to Use a Trademark to Protect Your Brand

If you have developed a brand of any kind, you'll want to protect it in order to maximize earnings and grow the brand. The most common form of protection is filing a trademark application. A trademark is any unique symbol, word, image or device that distinguishes the goods you have created from those of another seller. Certain trademarks are iconic: the font for the Coca-Cola logo, or the alligator logo on a Lacoste shirt. Consumers have come to associate the white cursive script from the Coca-Cola logo with beverages with a certain color, taste, and price. Similarly, consumers have come to associate a small embroidered crocodile sewn onto the left side of a polo shirt with polo shirts of a certain quality and price.

What is a Patent Search?

If you have a brilliant idea for an invention, you'll want to undertake a patent search right away. A patent search can clarify whether your invention is truly new and non-obvious so you don't waste money and time protecting and developing something that has already been invented.

Copyright / HBO and Showtime Win Anticipated TRO for Copyright Infringement

Cable networks HBO and Showtime won a victory for antipiracy efforts on April 30, two days before the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Anticipating certain websites would stream the fight for free, the fight was priced at $89 to $100 on pay-per-view, the cable companies sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enjoin websites from infringing their copyright of the coverage of the fight. Judge Wu granted their request, concluding that the threatened infringement would take away the cablers' right of first transmission and publication of a highly valuable live event, would interfere with their relationships with third parties, would likely damage their goodwill among consumers, and would deprive them of revenue that was difficult or impossible to calculate.

Grooveshark Settles and Wipes its Servers of Labels' Music

After several years of litigation, music streaming service Grooveshark will settle with major music labels rather than face hundreds of millions of dollars in statutory damages at trial. The service has agreed to wipe its servers of the record companies' music, and surrender ownership of its web site, apps, and intellectual property.

How Do I Legally Sample a Song?

Copyright infringement is no joke, as anyone who has tried to upload a video that contains un-licensed music to YouTube can attest. Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission or infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display, or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.

Fair Use Doctrine and Song Sampling

Musicians have been sampling each others music for decades. In fact, some musicians make their living sampling from other music and creating new sounds. For example, the solo artist Girl Talk mixes elements of hip-hop and rock songs to make a completely new sound. Girl Talk's only member is engineer-turned-DJ Greg Gillis. Mr. Gillis has so far released five albums, which are offered for free on his website, and each sampling hundreds of songs. For each sample of a song he uses on his albums, Mr. Gillis has sought no license and pays nothing to the original owners in the copyrighted work.

The Match of the Henleys: The Eagles vs. the T Shirt

Don Henley, a former member of the rock band the Eagles, has sued a company for using a pun to sell the style of shirts that share his name. The Minnesota-based Duluth Trading Company marketed its Henley shirts (a T-shirt with a short row of vertical buttons down the front) with the phrase, "Don a Henley and Take It Easy." Mr. Henley complained that the campaign references both his name and the title of the group's breakthrough single, "Take It Easy." Mr. Henley did not want consumers to believe he endorsed the shirts and sued in federal court to enforce the rights to his name, trademarks, and other intellectual property.

Trademark Infringement Claims Involving a Non-US Company

Sometimes potential trademark claims aren't always what they seem. The grocery chain Trader Joe's is appealing after losing a lawsuit to enforce its trademark against a Canadian individual who operates a store called "Pirate Joe's." For the past three years, Michael Hallatt has operated a grocery store that sells thousands of dollars of Trader Joe's goods in Vancouver.