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.
Google has filed a motion to dismiss the Authors Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers as plaintiffs in the Google Books copyright infringement claim.
The long running US Google books case emerged out of two separate law suits: one filed by the American Authors Guild (“the Authors Guild”) on behalf of authors and the other by the Association of American Publishers along with five separate publishers (for more details please see the April 2011 and October 2011 editions of Media Intelligence here and here).
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.
The State of Franchising Industry
The United States is the birthplace of both the business model of modern franchising and the legal framework of franchise regulation. Over the past 5 decades, American consumers have come to rely on franchised businesses in every aspect of their daily lives, including food, lodging, hair salons, automobile service, home care and children’s and senior services. Franchised businesses consistently outperform comparable non-franchised businesses, creating jobs and economic activity in local communities across the country. According to a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation, there are over 825,000 franchised businesses in the United States, representing 300 different business sectors. These franchises employ nearly 18 million Americans, accounting for 1 out of every 8 jobs. The franchise industry contributes over $2.1 trillion to the U.S. economy, and has grown by 40% over the past decade.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently entered a settlement order with Reebok International Ltd. to resolve charges that the company deceptively advertised that its “toning shoes” would provide extra tone and strength to leg and buttock muscles. The settlement arises out of an action the FTC brought in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio alleging the Reebok engaged in deceptive acts or practices and false advertisements in violation of Sections 5(a) and 12 of the FTC Act. Among other things, the FTC took issue with a TV ad in which a fit woman explains to the audience the benefits of the toning shoe, pointing to a chart that showing that the shoes are proven to strengthen hamstrings and calves up to 11 percent and tone the buttocks up to “28 more than regular sneakers, just by walking.” The FTC also contended that the use of the word “tone” in the product name was deceptive. The FTC’s contention was that these claims were deceptive because they not supported by adequate substantiation.
Today President Barack Obama signed into law the America Invents Act, marking the first time in nearly 60 years that US patent legislation has been reformed.
The US does not often update its patent law. The most recent set of federal patent laws was signed by President Harry Truman in 1952, which itself was the first major revision of US patent law since the Patent Act of 1836.
A New York District court has ruled that MP3tunes, a website which allows users to store online collections of music, is entitled to rely on safeharbours under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act in respect of certain activities of its users.
Fashion designers and companies can seek to protect their jewelry and other accessory designs through copyright, trademark and/or design patent registrations. Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are separate and independent forms of law and protection; therefore, protection can be obtained in one or all of the three ways discussed in more detail below.