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Intellectual Property Litigation Archives

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

ASCAP sues 19 bars and restaurants for copyright infringement

On Oct. 29, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, known as ASCAP, announced it had filed 19 lawsuits for copyright infringement lawsuits. According to its press release, the suits target bars and restaurants with music venues that allegedly failed to obtain proper licenses from ASCAP for performances and other use of copyrighted works.

Patagonia trademark suit against Anheuser-Busch not dismissed

On Sept. 3, a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California refused to dismiss five claims in an April trademark lawsuit brought by Patagonia, the retailer of environmental and outdoor fame, against giant brewer Anheuser-Busch over its beer named Patagonia. This left all eight of Patagonia's causes of action still standing and awaiting resolution through settlement or trial.

Singer sues retailer over allegedly copycat social media posts

Pop star Ariana Grande has filed a federal lawsuit against retailer Forever 21 and an affiliate because of social media and website postings she alleges copied elements of her music videos of the chart-topping song “7 Rings” and of the song “Thank U, Next,” according to The New York Times. The Times article includes pictures of the images in controversy from her complaint, including use of a lookalike model, similar clothing and other imagery resembling that used in Grande’s video.

Metal band to settle trademark dispute over beer name

According to Reuters, on August 12 the band Guns N' Roses filed notice with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that it and Oskar Blues, a Colorado brewery, had agreed on July 31 to settle their trademark infringement dispute over the brewer's use of the label "Guns 'N' Rosé" for ale and on merchandise. The band's attorneys are crafting a settlement agreement and will eventually request that the May 9 suit be dismissed, presumably if the settlement is approved.  

Jury awards $2.7 million in damages in Katy Perry copyright case

On August 1, a federal jury in Los Angeles calculated that Katy Perry, her label Capitol Records and related co-defendants owe rapper Marcus Gray and his co-writer $2.78 million for copyright infringement for Perry’s 2013 megahit “Dark Horse.” Gray, also known professionally as Flame, alleged in his lawsuit that Perry and her writing and production team copied for “Dark Horse” a basic series of notes used repeatedly in Gray’s popular 2008 Christian rap song “Joyful Noise.”

Kawhi Leonard’s copyright fight with Nike over the “Klaw” logo

When we think of branding, we often think of trademarks, but when a logo is based on creative artwork, it can also involve copyright. This is so in a dispute between basketball great Kawhi Leonard and his former sponsor Nike over a logo based on a drawing by Leonard that he gave to Nike for use as inspiration for a logo it designed and copyrighted.

Songwriters say "Game On" in copyright infringement lawsuit

On June 19, songwriter Heidi Merrill and three other cowriters filed a copyright infringement suit in U.S. District Court in New York against singer Carrie Underwood, the National Football League, NBCUniversal Media, LLC, and several related defendants. The complaint alleges that the defendants used Merrill's sports-themed song "Game On" as the 2018 theme song for "Sunday Night Football" without the writers' permission and without any compensation to them for its use.

Default judgment in Kardashian trademark, right of publicity suit

Kim Kardashian is in the intellectual property news again. We shared information just last week about her controversial choice of the word “kimono” for branding her new line of lingerie.

Part 2: Vigorous disputes over Frida Kahlo intellectual property

In our last post, we talked about disputes over the right to use Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s persona, image and name in 65 years after her untimely death. We introduced the parties involved and the dispute between Kahlo’s surviving relatives and the Frida Kahlo Corporation, or FKC, over ownership of rights to use Frida Kahlo’s image and name in the marketplace.

Part 1: Commercial rights to name and image of artist Frida Kahlo

Her image is unmistakable. Black hair usually pulled away from her face. Dark, thick eyebrows. Serious, unsmiling expression. Iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo lived with disability and controversy throughout her short, but dramatic, life. She died at 47 in 1954, leaving behind a legacy of surrealistic paintings sometimes described as folk art.

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