Reposted from DLA Piper’s Media & Sport Group bulletin

Editorial Team: Nick FitzpatrickDuncan Calow and Patrick Mitchell

British websites suspected of infringing US copyrights are being targeted by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Continue Reading British website owners targeted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

“Real World” MTV reality star Johnny Devenanzio has allegedly threatened to sue producers of the popular HBO show “Entourage,” claiming that they stole his nickname “Johnny Bananas” without his permission. Devenanzio claims that he has diligently developed the nickname over the course of five years on television through his “jerk-off” antics on various MTV reality shows.

Under U.S. trademark law, personal names are often considered “merely descriptive” and, thus, are generally not protectable trademarks absent a showing of acquired distinctiveness. Acquired distinctiveness (also known as “secondary meaning”) is evidence that the proposed mark, which in this case is “Johnny Bananas”, has become distinctive as applied to the specified goods or services through exclusive and continuous use in commerce for at least five years.

In this instance, does Devenanzio have a valid claim of acquired distinctiveness in his nickname “Johnny Bananas” in connection with, perhaps, entertainment and/or television-related goods and services based on his alleged five-years use in commerce?

Continue Reading Going “Bananas” Over Nicknames

By Scott McIntosh and Joe Englert 

Reposted from DLA Piper client alert

A Florida appellate court recently held in Ball v. D’Lites Enterprises, Inc., 2011 WL 3109733 (Fla. 4th DCA July 27, 2011), that a franchisor was not entitled to judicial absolute immunity for allegedly defamatory statements made regarding several franchisees on its corporate website, even though the franchisor and franchisees were currently engaged in litigation and the statements were related to the issues underlying the dispute. In light of this decision, franchisors, franchisees and franchisee associations should be aware that, when posting statements on the Internet related to pending litigation, they will not likely be protected by judicial absolute immunity.

Continue Reading Taking franchise disputes to the internet: judicial absolute immunity does not apply

By John Wilks and Damian Herrington, DLA Piper UK

In its first ever ruling on an intellectual property case, the UK’s Supreme Court has decided in Lucasfilm v Ainsworth that the stormtrooper helmets used in the Star Wars films were not “sculptures”, and thus were not protected by the English law of copyright.

Significantly, however, the Supreme Court also ruled that the infringement claims based on US copyright brought by Lucasfilm in respect of Mr Ainsworth’s acts in the US were justiciable in the English courts, a ruling which could have wide-ranging implications for the ability of English courts to decide claims for acts taking place in foreign countries which infringe the copyright in those countries.  The case indicates that if a defendant is resident in England, the English courts will be prepared to deal with claims for infringement of foreign copyright.

Whether the decision leads to full scale forum shopping by copyright infringement claimants remains to be seen.  But it will give claimants a useful litigation option in cases where there is international infringement of copyright by an English-domiciled defendant.

Continue Reading UK Supreme Court Opens Door to Overseas Copyright Claims in UK Courts