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Kansas City Intellectual Property Blog

Amazon is both friend and foe

Amazon has ruffled the feathers of some of its clients recently. It started with selling private house brands of batteries and phone chargers and then expanded into toys, clothing and furniture. Soon companies complained that their online retail partner was creating cheaper products of its own to compete with theirs. There were also accusations that Amazon was not doing enough to eliminate independent companies selling knockoffs of established brands on Amazon.

The lawsuits are now coming

Don't let your marijuana intellectual property go up in smoke

Cannabis has become an attractive industry for entrepreneurs as more states legalize its use for medical purposes, as well as a recreational drug. As a result, protecting brands, processes, trade names, logos and other intellectual property has become a more critical issue within the cannabis industry.

Cannabis is now legal in some form in 33 states and the District of Columbia for medical purposes. In November, Michigan became the 10th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational use of marijuana, and many other states and municipalities have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Last year, Canada became the second country in the world to approve cannabis nationwide for recreational use, although medical cannabis has been permitted since 2001.

Supreme Court revisits USPTO's ban on vulgar trademarks

The Supreme Court recently announced that it would examine whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can refuse to register immoral or scandalous trademarks. There is currently a 113-year-old statutory provision in place that supports this stance. However, the clothing line Fuct has sought trademark protection of its name since 2012.

The rejection by the USPTO is based on Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which prohibits "immoral, deceptive or scandalous manner" of trademarks. The clothing line is also known for using explicit sexual imagery and been accused of objectifying women in its marketing and advertising. Generally speaking, the spirit of this act is that the government does not protect or promote the use of vulgar terms and graphic sexual images through trademark registration.

Chad Kyle and Stephen Huggins named Hovey Williams partners

Hovey Williams LLP, a full-service intellectual property law firm, is proud to announce that Chad Kyle and Stephen Huggins will become its newest partners effective January 1, 2019. Both are registered patent attorneys and provide clients with legal assistance in a wide array of intellectual property matters.

Breaking it down: Carlton sues Fortnite over dance moves

Many will no doubt remember the geeky Carlton character from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. While actor Alfonso Ribeiro (who played Carlton) still enjoys the fruits of his labors thanks to residuals of a show that starred Will Smith, Ribeiro has now filed a suit against Fortnite creators Epic Games for copying the Carlton Dance. The actor also claims he is now in the process of copywriting the dance.

Lawsuits against Fortnite are mounting

Rihanna wants Trump campaign to stop using her music

Recently, a participant at a Tennessee rally for President Trump tweeted that Rihanna’s music was playing at the event. When Rihanna saw this, she took action to protect her copyright to the song.

The world of copyrighting music is complex, and this situation may not have a easily deciphered answer. Does a copyright protect when and where an artist’s music can be played? Can Rihanna sue President Trump for simply playing her music at a public event? Like Rihanna, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Adele and family members of Prince and Luciano Pavarotti all have asked the president to stop using their music at his events.

Artist pounces on 'Black Panther' music video

Lina Iris Viktor is a British-Liberian visual artist based in Manhattan who creates stunning pictures in a unique style using gilded imagery with African themes. In February, Viktor sued Kendrick Lamar, Universal Music Group, SZA and other defendants for copyright infringement, alleging that they copied patterns and style from her artwork in a 19-second portion of the music video for the song "All the Stars" from the movie soundtrack of "Black Panther." 

The lawsuit is in the news now that "All the Stars" has received major Grammy nominations, according to a new article at Artsy, which reported that the defendants look like they may be open to discussing settlement.

Five attorneys selected to the 2018 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists

The law firm of Hovey Williams LLP is proud to once again have attorneys selected to the 2018 Kansas Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. No more than five percent of the attorneys in the state are chosen by the Super Lawyers research team to receive this honor, while no more than 2.5 percent of the attorneys in the state are designated as Rising Stars based on 12 different criteria.

Regardless of the area of law, each attorney is selected because of their high degree of professional achievement. These lists are then published in Super Lawyers Magazines as well as various local and regional publications across the country.

Girl Scouts vs. Boy Scouts

The Girl Scouts of America have filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against the Boy Scouts of America. The Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA) allege that there is brand confusion now that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is admitting girls, which is a practice they began in 2017. Both organizations have traditionally been afforded distinct trademark protections under the law in view of the prior gender split, but now it appears BSA's widened admittance policies have upset that peaceful coexistence.

"Scouting" and "Scout" usage in dispute

UGG uses design patent to protect its boots

UGG boots have been popular women’s winter wear for more than a decade. For much of that time, UGG’s parent company Decker Outdoor Corporation (DOC) has spent considerable time and effort to protect its soft, moccasin-like boot made of sheepskin with a wooly lining against cheaper knockoffs. Unfortunately, the  general appearance of the UGG boots has been challenging to protect, so DOC has recently tried to become more creative in fighting off encroachment. 

According to recent reports, DOC has turned to design patents, which protect the ornamental appearance of product designs. Now, DOC is once again going up against its old nemesis Romeo & Juliette (R&J), whose Bearclaw look-alike allegedly infringes a number of DOC’s design patents. The two parties settled an earlier case, but R&J has a new line that once again has DOC taking umbrage.

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