Tag: America

1
A Modern Melody for the Music Industry: The Music Modernization Act Just Passed Congress and Awaits Presidential Approval
2
Sixth Circuit rules knurling pattern on rifle scopes could be nonfunctional trade dress
3
Jury awards profits for infringing sales in post-Samsung design patent case
4
Louis Vuitton Seeks Supreme Court Review to Resolve Purported Circuit Split on Trademark Dilution
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Kardashian #copyright saga
6
Momentum.africa – Opening of Top-Level Domain Name to Create Opportunities to IP Right Owners

A Modern Melody for the Music Industry: The Music Modernization Act Just Passed Congress and Awaits Presidential Approval

By Mark Wittow, Katie Staba and Trevor M. Gates

On September 25, 2018, the House concurred in Senate amendments to the newly-named Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (the “MMA”), sending that act to the president for signature.[1] The MMA is intended to “modernize copyright law” as applied to songwriters, publishers, digital music providers, record labels, and others involved in the creation and distribution of music. The MMA consists of three parts:

  • Title I establishes a licensing collective for digital music service providers to grant blanket mechanical licenses to such providers and collect and distribute royalties to rights owners;
  • Title II creates a royalty structure to compensate owners of pre-1972 sound recordings; and
  • Title III provides a statutory right for producers, mixers, and sound engineers to collect royalties for digital transmissions of sound recordings.

The MMA is the result of unprecedented alignment among Republicans and Democrats, the U.S. House and Senate, and music industry stakeholders.[2] Nonetheless, this major update to copyright licensing law in the music industry may cause upheaval within the complex music marketplace structure, which encompasses songwriters, studio professionals, artists, record labels, and digital streaming services.[3]

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Sixth Circuit rules knurling pattern on rifle scopes could be nonfunctional trade dress

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a reasonable jury could find a design pattern on rifle scopes is “nonfunctional” and thus potentially amenable to trade dress protection. Since 2002, Leapers, Inc. has been selling adjustable rifle scopes with knurling on the surface. Knurling is a common manufacturing technique that allows users to grip and fine-tune products more easily.

Leapers asserted “that it uses a unique knurling pattern that is distinctly ‘ornamental’ and by which customers recognize [Leapers] as the source of the product.” Leapers had executed an exclusive manufacturing contract with a Chinese company, but chose to end that relationship in 2011. The manufacturer agreed to cease using all technical specifications and designs, but later a factory manager from the manufacturer formed his own company and began manufacturing scopes allegedly using Leapers’ knurling design.

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Jury awards profits for infringing sales in post-Samsung design patent case

On September 29, a jury in California awarded Columbia Sportswear more than US$3.4 million for infringement of its design patent on heat-reflective technology for clothing and outdoor gear.  Columbia accused Seirus Innovative Accessories of infringing its utility and design patents for its wavy lining material, which reflects body heat, but allows for breathability and moisture-wicking. This appears to be the first jury verdict on a design patent after the Supreme Court’s decision in Samsung v. Apple.

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Louis Vuitton Seeks Supreme Court Review to Resolve Purported Circuit Split on Trademark Dilution

Louis Vuitton recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Second Circuit ruling that certain handbags are fair-use parodies of Louis Vuitton products, and therefore do not give rise to liability for trademark dilution by blurring. In its petition, Louis Vuitton contends there is a split of authority between the Second and Fourth Circuits regarding parody as a fair-use defense to dilution.

Louis Vuitton is the owner of famous trademarks “that immediately bring… to mind Louis Vuitton as the sole source of handbags and other stylish, high-quality goods bearing its marks.” My Other Bag, Inc. offers handbags with images of Louis Vuitton’s famous marks reproduced on one side, and the phrase “My other bag” inscribed on the back.

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Kardashian #copyright saga

Is this the right angle?
Is this the best filter?
Do I have the legal right to post this content?

While the first two questions may be at the forefront of the mind of social media users, the third is arguably as important as the pressure to push content to followers mounts in a saturated market. It is all too easy to download, screen-shot or take a photo of an image and share it across many platforms, however, taking a laissez-faire attitude to copyright ownership can land social media users in hot water.

Not only is uploading and sharing content protected by copyright a breach of the terms of use of most social media platforms (and could lead to a  user’s accounts being suspended or terminated in some cases) but it may also lead to copyright litigation, as Khloe Kardashian recently discovered.

Last week, Xposure Photos UK LTD, an “international celebrity photo agency”, filed proceedings against Ms Kardashian in the Central District Court of California alleging that she had infringed its copyright in an image that was posted to her Instagram® account.[1]  The image in question had originally been licensed to The Daily Mail and contained a copyright notice “© XPOSUREPHOTOS.COM”. The version of the image that appeared on Ms Kardashian’s account did not contain this notice nor any acknowledgement of Xposure Photos. The unauthorised removal of the copyright notice attracts 17 US Code § 1202 -1203 which provide the basis for a civil action for such conduct. In addition to seeking an injunction to prevent Ms Kardashian from using the image, Xposure Photos is also seeking US$25,000 in statutory damages as well as any profits resulting from the infringement.

While this is arguably small change for Ms Kardashian (who allegedly earns up to US$250,000 for a sponsored post on her social media sites), once legal costs and any time invested in litigation or negotiating a settlement is considered, it seems a hefty price to pay for failing to obtain an appropriate licence from the copyright owner. It is a timely reminder to social media users to ensure that they have the appropriate rights to the content they intend to use.

  1. Xposure Photos UK Ltd v Khloe Kardashian et al, 2:17-CV-3088 (C.D. Cal).

By: Jaimie Wolbers

Momentum.africa – Opening of Top-Level Domain Name to Create Opportunities to IP Right Owners

The new generic top-level domain (gTLD) .africa, a regional domain for users located in and out of the continent, has been officially validated by ICANN.

More than a decade after its other regional counterparts, such as .eu or .asia, the .africa gTLD has been the subject matter of a legal conundrum for years.

Indeed, a conflict between two operators had to be escalated up to U.S. courts before a final decision entrusted the management of the gTLD to a South African company, ZA Central Registry NPC.

This new gTLD will allow the African continent to seize the full potential of the internet revolution, on a continent where the mobile connectivity is now allowing bypassing the expensive copper wire infrastructure development.

The new .africa domain name extension is expected to lead the continent in its global effort to take part in the global information society and become a strategic place to invest.

Accessibility to the new domain name will be gradual: starting on 6 April 2017, a 60-day preliminary phase will allow trademark owners or companies to benefit from a priority right, as well as African countries that intend to protect certain emblematic names such as “Mount Kilimanjaro”. Then, starting on 2 June 2017, an Early Access Phase (EAP) will take place to prevent any hindrance or ransoming by ill-intentioned people.

The .africa TLD will finally be open to all on 4 July 2017, on a first-come/first-serve basis.

K&L Gates has more than 225 lawyers, including approximately 100 registered patent lawyers, agents, and technology specialists with technical or advanced science degrees – nearly 20 with Ph.D.s – who devote their practices to helping clients establish, enforce, and leverage their intellectual property rights worldwide.

We can thus highlight the pitfall to avoid, the topics on which to focus the attention and better defend and protect our clients’ intangible assets with regard to the opening of this new gTLD, on this emerging market.

By: Claude Armingaud, Alexandre Balducci and Solenn Le Guen

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