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Kansas City Intellectual Property Blog

Carlton’s dance lawsuits come to an end

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Alfonso Ribeiro has been in the news a lot since attempting to copyright his “Carlton” dance. At the beginning of this year, we wrote about how the actor took issue with the video game creators of Fortnite, who used a likeness of the actor’s signature dance from the show done as the character Carlton. The actor and his legal team also had launched a suit against Take-Two Interactive, which created the video game NBA2K16.

Suits hobbled by Copyright Office ruling

They are trade secrets only if you treat them as such

A federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois recently taught a painful lesson to a business owner. The plaintiff alleged that an employee had taken information that was important and sensitive enough to the company that it qualified as a trade secret.

The judge saw it differently, explaining that there are two reasons why the sensitive information did not qualify as a trade secret:

Trademark rights in the iconic Chuck Taylor sneakers

Few, if any, shoe brands are more iconic than the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Top sneaker. Named after a basketball player and taken to market in 1932, Chucks have been the shoe of choice ever since, including by virtue of a gracefully pivot from athletic gear to fashion statement in the 1970s.

Supreme Court: Copyright must be registered before bringing infringement lawsuit - authored by Kyle Mendenhall

After today's Supreme Court decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, it is now more important than ever for copyright owners to file their registration applications with the Copyright Office as soon as possible. While an author gains exclusive rights in his or her work immediately upon its creation, section 411(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976 specifies that "registration of the copyright claim [must have] been made" with the Copyright Office before pursuing an infringement claim in court.

Bloggers fight to protect their digital content

It is common for content generators and social media influencers of various digital platforms to monetize their brands by driving their followers to third-party links or retail sites. These content generators are then paid for that traffic and the sales the traffic brings. So it makes sense that fashion blogger Nitra Mann started a class action suit against celebrity news site PopSugar. In a suit filed in June 2018, Mann claimed that PopSugar stole thousands of Instagram images from various content generators and then reposted them with PopSugar’s own third-party links.

The suit alleges that PopSugar violated copyright and other related laws in a number of ways:

Women inventors still all too rare

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently released a report entitled “Progress and Potential: A profile of women inventors on U.S. patents.” The study examines trends and characteristics of among women inventors granted U.S. patents between 1976 and 2016. As with past reports on the subject of women inventors, it points out that women still make up a small minority of the patented inventors. It does highlight potential ways women can spur innovation and economic growth here in the U.S.

Several important highlights in the report include:

The EU removes McDonald’s Big Mac trademark

The Big Mac has been a ubiquitous part of U.S. culture for decades as the flagship burger of McDonald’s. Nonetheless, the same cannot be said for the European Union. The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) made this clear when it recently ruled that McDonald’s was not using the trademark in accordance with the EU Law. The ruling went into effect immediately.

According to the National Law review, the cancellation action is based upon Article 58(1)(a) of the EU Trade Mark Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 (EUTMR), an EU trademark can be cancelled where:

Jaguar Land Rover's $130 million trademark suit bombs

Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. has lost its bid to stop what it saw as trademark infringement by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP). This suit was brought because BRP has an ATV sports vehicle with side-by-side seats named the Can-Am Defender. Jaguar contended that the ATV was an infringement on its Defender SUV, which the auto manufacturer called "the heart and soul of the Land Rover brand."

The ruling

Mold-A-Rama puts its stamp on trademark infringement

Many will fondly recall the glass-topped Mold-A-Rama machines found at museums, zoos and arcades. These machines inject melted plastic into two molds, which are then combined to create dolphins, dinosaurs and other toys while young customers eagerly watch. The family-owned Mold-A-Rama, based in Illinois, has now filed a trademark infringement suit against an Atlanta-based collector who refitted old machines with modern technology while using the Mold-A-Rama name.

The company filed suit in Chicago after the modernized versions appeared at a trade show. According to local reports, the suit alleges that the collector “materially altered” the machines and is causing confusion for the consumer and potential liability exposure for the original owner. Mold-A-Rama is also simply unhappy with the result of the modification, calling it a “bastardization.”


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