Susan Ross (US)

Subscribe to all posts by Susan Ross (US)

U.S. Copyright Office and Electronic Signatures

On May 18, 2017, the U.S. Copyright Office proposed some regulatory changes in its requirement for a handwritten, wet signature in order to a record a document with the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office has proposed permitting electronic signatures in certain circumstances. Background In the U.S., the Copyright Office receives three types of documents for … Continue reading

Go Team Copyright!

On March 22, 2017, while millions of viewers were watching U.S. college basketball teams vie for the national championship, the uniforms worn by the cheerleaders became the focus of a U.S. Supreme Court copyright ruling. In Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands Inc., a majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the two-dimensional designs on … Continue reading

Copyrightability of private standards in federal regulations

On February 2, 2017, a federal trial court judge in Washington, D.C. ruled, in a 55-page opinion, that private standards developing organizations (“SDOs”) do not lose their copyright or trademark protection if a federal regulation adopts their standards. Background This case, American Society for Testing and Materials v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., Case. No. 13-cv-1215 (TSC) (D.D.C. … Continue reading

Package as “Advertising”

On October 17, 2016, a US federal trial court in the District of Columbia ruled that a competitor may pursue a Lanham Act claim for false advertising due to a container of black pepper. Watkins Inc. v. McCormick & Co., Inc., Case No. 1:15-cv-2188 (ESH) (D.D.C. Oct. 17, 2016) (2016 WL 6078250). In ruling on … Continue reading

Better Business Bureau’s New “Native Advertising” Guidance

On October 25, 2016, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) announced its release of a new section to its Code of Advertising to address  The term “native advertising” describes ads where the “design style and functionality of commercial messages mimic related content.” The New Guidance The fundamental point of the new section 39 is that advertisers … Continue reading

NY Court Says No Grand Theft of Stars’ Publicity Rights. What About California?

In July, the Brand Protection Blog reviewed potential “right of publicity” claims that might have been brought by celebrities whose wax “look alikes” appeared in Kanye West’s “Famous” music video. That analysis largely focused on California’s Celebrity Rights Act. A September 1, 2016 ruling from a New York State appeals court may demonstrate important differences … Continue reading

Making us safer, through Brand Protection

What does brand protection have to do with cybersecurity? A study earlier this year demonstrates the connection. The study reviewed domain names for 11 major industrial control system (ICS) vendors.  ICS vendors provide, among other things, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, used in power plants and oil and gas refining.  In other words, these … Continue reading

Social media campaigns and lobbying

GAO finds EPA violated law On December 14, 2015, the General Accounting Office found that a portion of the Environmental Protection Agency’s social media campaign violated federal laws relating to propaganda and anti-lobbying. Because the laws also affect government contractors, the GAO findings may be of interest, especially since they are similar to Federal Trade … Continue reading

DMCA Exemption – vehicle software (Part 5 of 6)

In the sixth triennial proceeding to determine Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) exemptions, the Copyright Office adopted an exemption concerning the electronic control unit (“ECU”) software found in automobiles and agricultural vehicles. The new exemption permits owners to circumvent the technological control measures (TMPs) found in ECU software for the purpose of diagnosing, repairing, and … Continue reading

DMCA exemption for smart TVs (Part 4 of 6)

Today, in our multi-part series on DMCA exemptions, we cover a new exemption concerning “smart TVs”. In addition to the exemptions for jailbreaking devices such as smartphones and tablets that we described in Part 3, of our series, the Copyright Office has also added an exemption for jailbreaking smart TVs. The exemption is a limited … Continue reading

Gobble Inc.’s (not so) “eco-friendly” claims discontinued

California-based meal delivery service Gobble Inc. made some changes to its advertising, just in time for Thanksgiving. On November 18, 2015, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureau announced that Gobble agreed to discontinue certain “eco-friendly” claims made regarding its packaging materials and business. As part of the NAD’s ongoing … Continue reading

DMCA Non-Infringement of Copyright: Cars, Devices, and the Internet of Things (Part 1)

On October 25, 2015, the U.S. Copyright Office published its sixth set of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). Our multi-part post will explore practical aspects of these new federal regulations. We will cover topics ranging from education uses of films to medical device software to “jailbreaking” smartphones and tablets to the Internet … Continue reading

Will the leap second affect your sweepstakes?

On June 30, 2015, the world will once again experience a “leap second,” where one second is added to the clock.  As a result, there will actually be civilian clocks reading 23:59:60 on that day.  (Leap second has no impact on atomic clocks and anything that uses atomic clocks, like GPS.) How could the addition … Continue reading

Don’t tell bloggers about NAD wins

If a company sues a competitor about an advertisement that the company believes is false or misleading about the company’s product, a court victory is frequently cause for a press release, as well as announcements on social media and to bloggers.  When the complaint is made to the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council … Continue reading

FTC and presumption of consumer reliance

Question: What’s the difference between US$600,000 and US$14 million in a contempt action? Answer: Presumption of consumer reliance, according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Federal Trade Commission v. BlueHippo Funding, LLC. The case began in 2003, when BlueHippo first began marketing computers and electronic products to consumers regardless of their credit history. … Continue reading

Olympic Games, your brand, and online security

For brand owners, the Olympic games can be an opportunity to showcase their goods and services to a worldwide audience. The top-tier sponsors pay substantial sums to reach that global audience, who may be watching the games at the time most convenient to their local time zones. That 24/7 demand calls for web sites and … Continue reading

80 million smiles for copyright owners

Brand owners and copyright owners found 80 million reasons to smile on December 3, 2013. On that day, online movie and TV streaming site Hotfile has agreed to pay $80 million to movie and TV studios to settle a two-year-old copyright infringement lawsuit. The Hollywood Reporter (Dec. 3, 2013). Hotfile is an offshore, online storage … Continue reading

Cross-border lessons in combating misleading advertising

Protecting consumers from false and misleading advertising is a key enforcement priority for both Canada’s Competition Bureau and the United States Federal Trade Commission. The Bureau’s most recent case, against two of Canada’s leading furniture and appliance retailers, demonstrates the increasing importance of ensuring clear and accurate advertising. The case draws on a theory relied … Continue reading

Build-A-Bear website, social media and COPPA

Many brand owners use their websites to promote their goods and services, as well as to promote their brands. Brand owners also frequently use social media to promote their brands. Indeed, it’s common for a website to include links to social media platforms such as Twitter and Pinterest. But if your site is directed to children, … Continue reading
LexBlog