Perhaps the most significant decision last year affecting franchising was not issued by a court
Peter Frampton filed a suit on 23 December 2011 against record label Universal Music for half a million pounds worth of unpaid music royalties and unspecified damages, making him the latest artist to make a claim against a record label in respect of digital royalties.
HarperCollins Publishers LLC (“HarperCollins”) has filed a law suit against digital publisher Open Road Integrated Media (“Open Road”) for copyright infringement in relation to the e-book rights to the children’s book, ‘Julie of the Wolves’ (the “Work”).
A federal judge has ruled against the creator of Ghost Rider in a battle for ownership rights of the character, ruling that he gave up all such rights to his employer, Marvel Entertainment LLC (‘Marvel’).
In a 6-2 decision today in Golan, et al. v. Holder, et al., the U.S. Supreme Court upheld U.S. Copyright protection for foreign works which had fallen into the public domain prior to the U.S. joining the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1989. See Slip Opinion. Under the Berne Convention, signatories agree to treat authors from fellow signatory countries as they would treat their own.
The High Court has ruled that Google did not have “actual knowledge” of defamatory material where complaints were not “sufficiently precise and well substantiated”.
On 25 November 2011 the High Court ruled in favour of Google; setting aside an order that permitted the US company to be served out of the jurisdiction in defamation proceedings. The Court ruled that the claimant, former UK intelligence adviser Andrea Davison, had failed to show a real and substantial tort within the jurisdiction or that Google had actual knowledge of unlawful activity on the blog that it hosted.
By: Stefania Baldazzi and Annalaura Avanzi (Milan)
In 1967, the well-known Italian fashion designer Elio Fiorucci founded the fashion brand Fiorucci S.p.A. After more than two decades of success in Italy and around the world, Mr. Fiorucci sold the company and all of its creative assets to the Tokyo Company Edwin Co. Ltd in 1990. The sale encompassed all the Fiorucci trademarks, including numerous marks containing the element “FIORUCCI.”
In 1999, Edwin Co. registered the mark “ELIO FIORUCCI,” by filing an application with the Office for Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM), which is a body of the European Commission, for a broad category of goods, including cosmetics, apparel, footwear and leather products.
By: Radiance A. Walters (Washington, DC)
Red-soled stilettos for only $39.99? French luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin continues the fight to protect its iconic “Chinese red” soles. This past August, a U.S. federal district court denied a preliminary injunction against Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) and issued a decision that questioned the validity of Louboutin’s red-sole trademark. On October 17, 2011, Louboutin’s lawyers appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Shortly thereafter, premier jeweler Tiffany & Co. filed an amicus brief in support of Louboutin, furthering the fight to protect color as a trademark. The International Trademark Association (INTA) also filed an amicus brief on November 14, 2011 taking the position that the District Court erred in rejecting the U.S. presumption of validity attendant to Louboutin’s federal trademark registration. Further, INTA argues that the District Court incorrectly construed the Louboutin’s registration as a broad claim to the color red instead of the narrower claim to “lacquered red sole on footwear,” which is what the registration actually covers. The Court of Appeals is left with the daunting task of determining whether and when color may function as merely a design element versus a source-identifying trademark.
By: Job Seese (New York)
Our Spring 2011 issue discussed a pending U.S. legislative bill that would expand copyright protection to fashion designs – something that generally is not available under existing U.S. law. Known as the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPPA), the bill was first introduced in the Senate in August 2010. However, the bill was never taken up by the full Senate and effectively died at the end of that Congressional session. Currently, a legislative bill of the same name is pending before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet.