Category: Court Decisions

1
Copyright Directive: Italy’s Transposition is Not So Creative and Original
2
State AGs Join the Push to Restore FTC Powers to Obtain Monetary Relief
3
When Is an Office Chair Design Famous? U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Herman Miller’s Trade Dress Appeal Regarding the Eames Chair
4
“Lettuce Turnip the Beet” Pun on T-Shirts Not Trademark Use, Ninth Circuit Affirms
5
Battle of the ballet shoes: UK court finds infringement of registered community design
6
Battle of the Bentleys: Bentley Motors loses trade mark appeal against Bentley Clothing
7
Can’t “Shake It Off” Yet: Court Denies Taylor Swift’s Motion to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
8
PTAB’s Motion to Amend Patentability Powers
9
U.S. Supreme Court Allows Booking.com to Trademark Its Domain Name
10
U.S. Supreme Court rules Georgia’s official annotated code outside the scope of copyright protection under “government edicts” doctrine

Copyright Directive: Italy’s Transposition is Not So Creative and Original

Italian transposition of the Copyright Directive (as defined below) introduces some interesting additions within the free uses regulation, but it might not represent the relevant breakthrough for the press industry that its minor players, as well as the EU legislator, wished for.

BACKGROUND

On 26 March 2019, the European Parliament approved EU Directive 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019, on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (the Copyright Directive), which member states were expected to transpose by June 2021 at the latest. Whilst some member states complied with the deadline, Italy only issued its transposition through Legislative Decree 177/2021 on 12 December 2021 (the Legislative Decree) and amended the existing Law No. 633/1941 on copyright and related rights (the Italian Copyright Law).

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State AGs Join the Push to Restore FTC Powers to Obtain Monetary Relief

On June 28, 2021, the Attorneys General from New York and Colorado co-authored a letter to congressional leaders supporting the restoration of the Federal Trade Commission’s right to seek equitable relief, an affirmation urgently sought by the pending Consumer Protection and Recovery Act (H.R. 2668).  Twenty-eight attorneys general joined en masse to support the passage of H.R. 2668, which was introduced in April 2021 by Representative Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) to “to affirmatively confirm the authority of the Federal Trade Commission to seek permanent injunctions and other equitable relief for violations of any provision of law enforced by the Commission.”

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When Is an Office Chair Design Famous? U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Herman Miller’s Trade Dress Appeal Regarding the Eames Chair

The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to take up Herman Miller, Inc.’s appeal from a Ninth Circuit holding that partially overturned a jury verdict and held that Herman Miller’s popular Eames office chair (average retail price US$1,200) is not “famous” enough to qualify for trade dress dilution protection.[1] The Supreme Court’s denial of Herman Miller’s petition means the Ninth Circuit’s decision will stand.

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“Lettuce Turnip the Beet” Pun on T-Shirts Not Trademark Use, Ninth Circuit Affirms

The owner of the trademark “LETTUCE TURNIP THE BEET” cannot prevent third parties from printing the mere phrase on t-shirts, tote bags, or other products. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed on January 20, 2021 that consumers are likely to purchase such products because they find the phrase aesthetically pleasing and not because they associate the phrase with any particular source. LTTB LLC v. Redbubble, Inc., 19-16464 (9th Cir. 2021).

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Battle of the ballet shoes: UK court finds infringement of registered community design

The UK IP Enterprise Court has ruled that an Austrian shoe company infringed a registered community design (“RCD”) held by a US based sustainable fashion brand although there was no infringement of the corresponding unregistered community design (“UCD”). The decision is a relatively rare example of a UK, or EU, based Court analyzing fashion items and addressing design novelty issues between 2017 and now. A full copy of the decision can be found here.

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Battle of the Bentleys: Bentley Motors loses trade mark appeal against Bentley Clothing

Luxury car manufacturer Bentley Motors has lost its appeal against a ruling which found it infringed the trade marks of a small, family company called Bentley Clothing. A full copy of the decision can be found here.

Following the ruling, Bentley Motors must stop using the trade mark BENTLEY and their combination sign – the B-in-Wings logo and the word BENTLEY (shown below) – on clothing.

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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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PTAB’s Motion to Amend Patentability Powers

In a 2-1 split decision on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Federal Circuit confirmed that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB“) had the authority to reject substitute claims under 35 U.S.C. §§ 101 and 112, statutory grounds not available to the PTAB for evaluating patentability of granted patent claims in inter partes review (“IPR“). (Uniloc 2017 LLC, v. Hulu, LLC et al., Case No. 2019-1686, slip op. at 3 (Fed. Cir. July 22, 2020).)

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Booking.com to Trademark Its Domain Name

On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V., 591 U.S. ___ (2020) that “Booking.com” is eligible for trademark registration because consumers do not perceive “Booking.com” as a generic name.[1] The 8-1 decision written by Justice Ginsburg rejected the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s argument that when a generic term is combined with a generic Internet-domain-name suffix like “.com,” the resulting combination is necessarily generic, noting that such an unyielding legal rule that entirely disregards consumer perception is incompatible with the Lanham Act.

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U.S. Supreme Court rules Georgia’s official annotated code outside the scope of copyright protection under “government edicts” doctrine

On April 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts that copyright protection does not extend to the annotations in Georgia’s official annotated code. In the case, Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc. (No. 18-1150), the majority held that because “Georgia’s annotations are authored by an arm of the legislature in the course of its legislative duties, the government edicts doctrine puts them outside the reach of copyright protection” even though the annotations themselves do not have the force of law.[1]

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