Raging Bull is a cult classic boxing film that depicts the life story of Jake Lamotta, a hard-charging, volatile boxer from the Bronx. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Robert Deniro as Lamotta, a role which garnered Deniro an Academy Award for best actor.
A copyright infringement case involving Raging Bull that has wound its way through the courts recently took "center ring" at the U.S. Supreme Court. In the case, Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, Inc., the Court considered the question of whether the doctrine of laches is available as a defense to copyright infringement. On May 19, 2014, Justice Ginsberg issued a 6-3 opinion holding that laches is not a defense to a claim for copyright damages. Justices Breyer, Roberts and Kennedy dissented. Read More ›
The gossip website, thedirty.com, is immune from liability for online posts about an ex-Bengals Cheerleader’s sexual promiscuity and acquiring a sexually transmitted disease. In a closely followed decision from a case that has generated considerable media coverage because of its potential to chill online speech and hold internet websites such as Facebook, Twitter and newspaper sites liable, which allow third party users to post content, was reversed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently overturned a jury verdict of $338,000 against gossip website thedirty.com and its owner Nik Richie. Sarah Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment Recordings LLC arose after Sarah Jones, a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and teacher who was subsequently convicted of having sex with a high school student, sued the website after it posted unflattering information about her sexual promiscuity with football team players, she demanded the posts be removed, and the website refused. She filed state law tort claims for defamation and privacy torts and won at trial. The defendants appealed. Read More ›
Since the passing of the Crowdfunding Act in December 2013, many questions concerning the applicability of the law have surfaced. This past month, the Michigan Municipal League launched CrowdfundingMI.com, a website pertaining to crowdfunding in Michigan. It is an excellent resource intended to answer basic questions and importantly, aimed to help local businesses connect with investors. The website provides general information, along with frequently asked questions, and tutorials regarding the benefits of crowdfunding Read More ›
On June 18, the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") cancelled the Washington Redskins' trademark in its team name, concluding that the term "Redskin" was racially offensive and derogatory towards Native Americans.
Under the Lanham Act, Federal Trademark Law prohibits the registration of trademarks that "may disparage" individuals or groups or "bring them into contempt or disrepute." In a controversial 2-1 decision, the USPTO agreed with a group of petitioners who claimed the team name was disparaging to Native Americans, and thus was not permitted to receive the protections afforded by trademark law. The Washington Redskins plan to appeal the decision and have responded by saying that the term is meant to honor Native Americans and is not considered offensive by many. Read More ›
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has recently affirmed a decision stating that many of the older Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are in the public domain. The court held that just because later versions of a character are still protected by copyright, does not mean that the copyrights in those earlier stories continue to exist beyond the copyright term. The Doyle estate argued that the later stories added to the "complexity" of the characters and should provide some measure of protection. Read More ›
What do Google and WD-40 have in common? They can both attribute their continued success to trade secrets. It may be relatively easy to build a search engine or an aerosol can that sprays lubricant, but it is practically impossible to replicate the success of Google and WD-40. The two companies do not have patents on their products, precisely because that would require public disclosure of how to produce the product that has made them so successful. The benefit of a trade secret is that it continues in perpetuity. Coca-Cola's trade secret for its formula is over 120 years old. If Coke had decided to patent its formula instead, the patent would have expired over a century ago and the company would not be the giant it is today.
In order to qualify as a "trade secret," the information must have economic value and must be kept confidential by the company. This can be done through legal documents, compartmentalizing information, physical and digital security, and enforcement actions against leakers of information. Tech companies should consider the use of trade secrets if a product is one that is not easy to develop independently. Software code and chemical formulas are two prime candidates. Importantly, trade secrets are governed by state law, which can vary as to confidentiality requirements. Read More ›
It is time that we talk about design patents. Generally, when I mention design patents to potential clients, they invariably protest that they have an “invention” and not a “design.” However, most “inventions” at least contain ornamental elements that have the potential for design infringement in the marketplace. In those cases, pursuing a design patent, by itself or in combination with a utility application, can be an effective and affordable way to secure valuable intellectual property protection.
To help you decide if a design patent might be right for you, I have devoted this post to answering the most common questions I get regarding design patents. Read More ›
So you had one of those “Eureka!” moments a while ago and your epiphany is going to make millions as soon as it hits the shelves. This blog is about making sure you don’t lose your right to patent that million dollar idea by waiting too long to file a patent application.
Generally, an invention can only be patented if a patent application is filed within one year of the invention's first disclosure. A public disclosure can take the form of: 1) a publication, 2) a public use, or 3) an offer for sale. In the patent world, these events are called the statutory bars because they bar you from filing a patent on the idea if one year has elapsed since the event. Read More ›
Technology is increasingly becoming an essential component of all industries. This is especially true for the health care industry. As health care providers continue to increase their use of technology, they are asked more and more frequently to enter into software or other IT contracts. Before entering into a contract, no matter the industry, you should always have an attorney review the document.
Learn more about IT Contract Review for health care providers on our Health Care Law Blog here.
Are you interested in IT Contract Review for another industry? Contact one of our technology attorneys to help you review your agreement before you face unexpected problems or unwanted liability.
Categories: IT Contracts
I get a lot of questions from clients about “provisional patents." Let me just start this blog by clarifying once and for all that there is no such thing as a “provisional patent” anywhere in the Patent Act. However, since 1995 the USPTO has offered inventors the option of filing a provisional patent application under §11(b) of the Patent Act. Provisional applications have some interesting advantages of which you should be aware. Read More ›