Category: Copyright

1
Unicolours v. H&M: Copyright Registration Validity
2
Copyright Infringement? The Court is “Not Gonna Take It”
3
Just One More Thing For Swatch and Apple to Fight About
4
A Fair Use Tale, or All’s Well That Ends: the U.S. Supreme Court Holds Google’s Use of Java Code to Be a Fair Use under U.S. Copyright Law
5
The NFT Explosion – What Lawyers Need to Know
6
U.S. Spending Bill Includes Sweeping New Copyright and Trademark Measures
7
Neoprene Tote Bags: Watertight Not Copyright
8
Air France restrained from using song that infringes “Love Is In The Air”
9
Proposed copyright reform in Australia – Limited liability scheme for use of orphan works
10
Can’t “Shake It Off” Yet: Court Denies Taylor Swift’s Motion to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Unicolours v. H&M: Copyright Registration Validity

On June 1, 2021, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the ongoing case of Unicolors v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P., No. 20-915.  With a nearly $1 million copyright verdict on the line, pattern manufacturer Unicolors, Inc.’s (“Unicolors”) fate is now at the Supreme Court to decide whether courts should refer copyright registration validity challenges to the Copyright Office where there is a known misrepresentation in the registration, but no evidence of intent to defraud.

 A copyright registration certificate is not valid if obtained by offering false information and that information, if known, would have resulted in the registration being denied. Under 17 U.S.C. §411(b)(2), where knowingly inaccurate information is included in an application for copyright registration, “the court shall request the Register of Copyrights to advise the court whether the inaccurate information if known, would have caused the Register of Copyrights to refuse the registration.” 

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Copyright Infringement? The Court is “Not Gonna Take It”

A clear cut case of copyright infringement involving Twisted Sister’s hit song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (WNGTI) has demonstrated the Court’s willingness to award significant financial penalties where intellectual property rights have been “flagrantly” infringed.

In Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd v Palmer (No 2) [2021] FCA 434, Justice Katzmann of the Federal Court ordered Australian businessman and United Australia Party (UAP) founder Clive Palmer to pay AU$1.5 million in damages after finding that he had infringed copyright in WNGTI. Katzmann J notably awarded AU$1 million in additional damages, two-thirds of the total award, under section 115(4) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act).

The action was brought against Mr Palmer by joint applicants Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd and Songs of Universal (collectively, Universal), which are the exclusive Australian licensee and copyright assignee respectively.

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Just One More Thing For Swatch and Apple to Fight About

Since the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, Swatch, a well-known Swiss watch manufacturer, has been involved in a number of trade mark disputes against Apple regarding their overlapping product markets.

These disputes have concerned the marks ‘I-WATCH’ and ‘I-SWATCH’, ‘TICK DIFFERENT’ and ‘THINK DIFFERENT’ and, more recently, the mark ‘ONE MORE THING’.

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A Fair Use Tale, or All’s Well That Ends: the U.S. Supreme Court Holds Google’s Use of Java Code to Be a Fair Use under U.S. Copyright Law

By: Mark H. WittowPaul J. BrueneTrevor M. Gates

On 5 April 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a major copyright dispute that had wound through the federal courts for over a decade. In a 6-2 decision written by Justice Breyer, the Supreme Court held that Google’s copying of roughly 11,500 lines of declaring Java code for Google’s mobile Android platform was a fair use as a matter of law and thus not copyright infringement. The decision addresses the application of copyright law to software and updates and extends the Supreme Court’s copyright fair use jurisprudence. Read our recent client alert here.

The NFT Explosion – What Lawyers Need to Know

First there were CryptoKitties. Then came Digital art, CryptoPunks and NBA tokens. But when Beeple’s digital art piece sold at Christie’s for $69 million, the mania truly  began.  And as with any wave of media mania, also came the groundswell of negative media and hand-wringing about NFTs.   Of course, NFTs are not all evil nor are they a panacea for artists and musicians. If properly issued and positioned, they can provide a win-win for both artists and collectors.

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U.S. Spending Bill Includes Sweeping New Copyright and Trademark Measures

On Monday, 21 December, U.S. Congressional leaders passed a spending bill that included government funding and folded in several controversial intellectual property provisions that will expand the rights of intellectual property owners. These provisions include the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforce (CASE) Act, the Trademark Modernization Act (TMA), and a law to make certain illegal streaming a felony. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on 27 December 2020.

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Neoprene Tote Bags: Watertight Not Copyright

In the recent judgment State of Escape Accessories Pty Limited v Schwartz [2020] FCA 1606, Justice Davies of the Federal Court of Australia found a fashionable neoprene tote bag was not a “work of artistic craftsmanship” and therefore not an “artistic work” for the purposes of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (the Act). Since the Court found that copyright did not subsist in the State of Escape bag (the Escape Bag), there was no finding of copyright infringement.

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Air France restrained from using song that infringes “Love Is In The Air”

In April, we wrote about the judgement Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability) [2020] FCA 535 (Decision), in which Glass Candy and Air France were found to have infringed the copyright in the well-known 1970s hit song “Love is in the Air” (Love).

Now, in the recent judgement Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Scope of Injunction) [2020] FCA 1413, the Federal Court of Australia has finalised the injunctive orders necessary to give effect to the Court’s earlier conclusions on the issue of liability in the Decision, amongst other matters.

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Proposed copyright reform in Australia – Limited liability scheme for use of orphan works

Reforms to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act) are just around the corner, and after two years of extensive stakeholder consultation, the Government has finally proposed a limited liability scheme for use of orphan works. The proposed reforms were announced by Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, on 13 August 2020.

This proposed amendment will favour the cultural, educational and broadcasting sectors in Australia who will soon be able to use and display works for which a copyright owner cannot be identified or located without risk of copyright infringement, and will result in an important public interest benefit.

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Can’t “Shake It Off” Yet: Court Denies Taylor Swift’s Motion to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

On September 2, 2020, a California federal judge denied musician Taylor Swift’s motion to dismiss copyright infringement claims related to the lyrics in Swift’s hit song Shake It Off. On remand from the Ninth Circuit, the district court held the merger doctrine did not apply at this stage and that plaintiffs Nathan Butler and Sean Hall sufficiently alleged a protectable sequence of creative expression and substantial similarity in the lyrics at issue. This ruling comes nearly three years after Hall and Butler originally filed suit, and nearly one year after the Ninth Circuit breathed new life into the case by reversing the district court’s prior dismissal of this lawsuit.

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