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Geekview IP Week in Review
Pets sue for (fur) false advertising.
Do people have an advantage over pets in litigation? Pamela Carthen hopes to find out, having recently filed a class action lawsuit alleging false advertising against Bayer Healthcare and Merial. The complaint alleges that Harley Bear — the Plaintiff’s chocolate lab — became flea infested and neither the Advantage or Frontline products rid poor Harley Bear of his fleas. In fact, Harley Bear’s fleas became so bad, he began tearing out his own fur, making Ms. Carthen so fur-i-ous that she filed a lawsuit on behalf of all Ohio purchasers of defendant’s products. We’ll just have to wait and see how this one plays out, while hopefully Harley Bear soon will be able to play inside again, flea free and happy as can be. As for Ms. Carthen, maybe some Cush would help her mellow out . . .
According to an article on Buffalo New York’s Your News Now, some Buffalo delis are selling incense (what?) that people purchase to get high (at least that explains why delis would be selling incense — to get their patrons high so they want to eat more, of course). One brand in particular, Cush, manufactured by a company named Sky Hi Blends drew the ire of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (Dr. Snap for short). Now, I recently learned that Dr. Pepper is Stephen Colbert’s favorite soft drink (watch here), but who knew they still made Orange Crush, or as it now appears to be called, Crush Orange? Apparently, Dr. Snap and its lawyers did, and they were none too pleased with Sky Hi Blend’s appropriation of their trademark. The Cush product no longer appears to be available on Sky Hi’s site, though you can purchase an ounce of Ski Hi herbal kush for a mere $125. Mind you, the website states,” . . . potpourri is not meant for smoking or for human consumption.” Thanks for the clarification, cause apparently at least the folks in Buffalo are too, uh, relaxed, to recognize that. Buffalonians aren’t the only ones who are failing to recognize the obvious . . .
Urban Outfitters tramples on Navajo Nation’s Rights.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Urban Outfitters (UO) recently launched a new global product line called Navajo that feature a print inspired by the traditional prints of the Navajo Nation. Apart from being disrespectful, this also would be trademark infringement if consumers perceived UO’s use of the NAVAJO brand to be approved by the Navajo Nation. Of the Navajo Nation’s 72 LIVE trademark records, there’s only one registration of the NAVAJO mark for “neckties and leather belts of plain leather, and of leather ornamented with silver, and of leather ornamented with silver and turquoise or other trimmings, for personal wear,” which mark has been in commercial use on such goods since May 1, 1943. The WSJ Heard on the Runway fashion blog (because conservatism is more appealing when it’s fashionable) reported that counsel for the Navajo Nation contacted Urban Outfitters, but what really got the retailer moving to remove the items from shelves worldwide was good old fashioned social media. A public letter on letter on Racialicious, followed by a petition on Change.org was enough public pressure to get Urban Outfitters to pull the clothing line worldwide, in a victory described here. While Urban Outfitters and the Navajo Nation generally appeal to different types of tribes, even some families just can’t get along . . .
Just because you think you should doesn’t mean you can.
Buccellati manufactures products under what it claims to be the “world famous trademarks.” Buccellati claims to have sold fine jewelry under the BUCCELLATI marks since the 1700s and handbags since the 1920s, even though the BUCCELLATI mark first was registered for jewelry, flatware, vases, candlesticks and related goods in 1968, with a claimed first use date of 1952. Not exactly the 1700s, as claimed in the complaint, but close! Laura Buccellati is a family member (a grandniece) who sold her entire interest in the Buccellati companies in 1989. According to the lawsuit, Ms. Buccellati has since used her full name along with her familial ties to the Buccellati family to market and sell her handbags, wallets, belts and scarves. She also applied to register a mark bearing the stylized signature shown above for various bags, which application was suspended based on a prior pending Buccellati family business BUCCELLATI application. Laura opposed this application and the family sued her just as the Opposition proceeding was winding to a close. What good is a family if you can’t spend years tied up in litigation together? And in other wacky IP wonders . . .
Warner Bros. Hangover causes the studio heartache.
As I wrote about last May, Mike Tyson’s tattoo artist, S. Victor Whitmill filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. to prevent release of The Hangover Part II based on alleged copyright infringement of Tyson’s tattoo, copyright ownership in which Whitmill claimed to own. The case settled, of course, so we may never know if a tattoo is subject to copyright protection, and if so, whether it is the type of work in which automatically is a work for hire. In any case, Warner Bros. has been sued again for copyright infringement allegedly occurring in the Hangover Part II, though this time though it’s all about the story. Michael Alan Rubin is representing himself (surprise!) in a suit against Warner Bros. for ripping off his screenplay treatment and his personal story, while also defaming and defrauding him. Hangover II didn’t get great reviews, but it sure has attracted some humorous litigation. Onto other entertaining entertainment law news . . .
Who’s the “Biggest Loser” now?
Universal Studios produces a reality show called the Biggest Loser on which extremely heavy people are publicly shamed into slimming down. Effective, apparently. So much so that the folks at Premier Fitness Camp thought it would be a good idea to co-opt the brand to promote their own “weight loss camp” services. Universal thinks otherwise and filed suit on October 21, 2011 seeking an injunction and monetary damages. I must say, no matter how hard Premier trains, I think Warner is going to take it out. Seems most Americans agree that it’s time to take out/break up Big Banks and Big Business, but . . .
In Banks we Trust?!?
Thanks to the folks at the Wichita Eagle who wisely spotted this dispute and discussed it here. According to the trademark infringement complaint filed by Intrust against Entrust, Entrust has members worldwide and provides banking access through a network of 4,000 Credit Union Service Centers and 50,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide, targeting people of “good Christian values” who “wish to be good stewards — now and in the future.” The PTO granted Entrust registration of the composite mark shown above, despite the fact that Intrust owns ten registrations for various INTRUST marks for banking – related services. For now, it appears Intrust must have faith in the court to help it to protect its brand. In another weird twist of fate . . .
Kevorkian controversy continues, kinda.
Jack Kevorkian was known as Dr. Death for being a vocal advocate for terminally ill patients’ right to die. He also served eight years of a ten to twenty-five year prison sentence for second degree murder for his publicly broadcast voluntary euthanasia of Thomas Youk. He was released on parole in June, 2007 and died in June, 2011. The present controversy involves “seventeen paintings,” and “writings, some musical compositions, a sweater and a hat.” Yup. That’s gotta be along the lines of what most famous people bequeath to museums, right? In any event, the Armenian Library and Museum of America claims Kevorkian left it the paintings, which were scheduled to be auctioned today to raise money for a kid’s cancer charity, according to an article on Huffington Post. Kevorkian’s estate apparently claims the paintings were on loan for safe keeping. The complaint doesn’t address the copyright ownership issues, though I suspect that those too will get resolved before this case becomes dust in the wind. So onward we go from dust to air . . .
Court finds LG’s case full of hot air.
LG sued Whirlpool for false advertising, claiming that Whirlpool’s Steam Dryer (above left) does not actually use steam. After a three week trial in September, the jury ruled against LG and the court ordered it to pay Whirlpool $411,029.12 in legal fees and costs. Ouch! Though I am sure that was only a fraction of Whirlpool’s legal bill, hopefully it hurt LG enough to discourage unsubstantiated claims. Then again, I think these two companies spend an awful lot of time in intellectual property lawsuits with each other, mostly over patents it seems. Just because someone is in the same field as you doesn’t automatically make them a competitor.
Bob Dylan & Dee Snyder team up to take on The Renegade.
The Renegade, 102.5 FM in Southwest Virginia apparently broadcast songs owned by Bob Dylan, Dee Snider and others without paying the requisite performing rights royalties. Now Dylan and Snider and other performing rights owners have joined forces in a lawsuit designed to make The Renegade to pony up SESAC licensing fees, over a million dollars in damages, attorneys’ fees and costs of suit. Were I a betting woman, I’d put my money on a quick surrender by The Renegade.
And with that, I surrender the remainder of your time back to you.
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