Susan Ross (US)

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Cryptocurrency and trademarks – a lesson in jurisdiction

On October 22, 2018, a federal trial court in Manhattan granted web services conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Limited’s request for a preliminary injunction against several defendants that were offering cryptocurrency for sale, under the name “AlibabaCoin.” (Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. v. Alibabacoin Foundation, No. 18-CV-2897 (JPO) (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 22, 2018) Although neither Alibaba nor any … Continue reading

USPTO warns of unauthorized changes to trademark files

On October 19, 2018, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) posted a general warning on its website that unauthorized changes have been made to “a number” of active trademark applications and registrations. The PTO indicated that the unauthorized changes affect “a small percentage of total applications and registrations.” What can you do? If you … Continue reading

Copyright, cryptocurrency and video games

Video games, such as Grand Theft Auto®, remain popular around the globe, and two recent matters made headlines on two different aspects of the games: copyright and cryptocurrency. Copyright On August 16, 2018, the federal trial court in Manhattan issued a ruling in a case involving the video game “Grand Theft Auto V” (“GTAV”) and … Continue reading

Public laws, private standards and copyright “fair use”

On July 17, 2018, the federal appeals court located in Washington, D.C. issued a ruling in a case involving an intersection of copyrighted material (standards) and non-copyrightable material (laws and regulations). The appeals court remanded the matter back to the trial court, to determine under what circumstances a non-profit organization could publish private standards as … Continue reading

Trademarks, social media and lessons learned

On June 14, 2018, a federal trial court in New York issued a decision relating to a restaurant owner’s claim that the restaurant manager was using the owner’s trademarks on social media in violation of the federal trademark law known as the Lanham Act. The trial court denied the owner’s claim, in a ruling that … Continue reading

Trial Court ruling: game over Team Copyright

We had previously covered the March 22, 2017 U.S. Supreme Court copyright ruling on designs on cheerleader uniforms. In Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands Inc., a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the two-dimensional designs on cheerleaders uniforms were at least in theory eligible for copyright protection. On August 10, 2017, seven … Continue reading

New York’s Right of Publicity – Take Two

We had previously written about a September 1, 2016 ruling from a New York State appeals court relating to New York’s right of publicity and claims brought by celebrities Lindsay Lohan and Karen Gravano against the creator and distributor of the video game “Grand Theft Auto V.” On March 29, 2018, New York’s highest court … Continue reading

US Copyright Office and electronic signatures

On May 18, 2017, the US 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 US, 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
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