Trending Trademarks

Nicholas O'Donnell

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Is Coopting Graffiti Artist's Street Cred a Fair Use?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 2, 2016 at 5:22 PM

Estate of Graffiti Artist Sues McDonald’s Over Fast-Food Décor

The estate of Dashiell “Dash” Snow, better known as graffiti artist “Secret Snow”—has sued McDonald’s over allegedly infringing use of Snow’s street art in McDonald’s dining rooms.  The lawsuit in the Central District of California is the latest in a series of cases in which street artists are asserting their rights in copyright without any concession about whether the creation has other legal issues (i.e., trespassing or vandalism).  Based on the survival of other recent similar cases, this latest case could be a headache for the giant restaurant chain, though it may have interesting fair use arguments based on the contrasting nature of the street vs. corporate uses.

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Topics: Digital Milennium Copyright Act, Copyright Fair Use, 17 U.S.C. § 1202

California Resale Royalty Act Claims Dismissed as Preempted by Copyright Law, Despite 1980 Ninth Circuit Holding to the Contrary

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 21, 2016 at 1:47 PM

Just three months after the Supreme Court denied certiorari review of last year’s Ninth Circuit decision finding California’s Resale Royalty Act unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause in part—but also valid in part—the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has ruled the entire law invalid as preempted by copyright law. Critically, the opinion relies on last year’s Ninth Circuit ruling on the Commerce Clause issue to overrule a 1980 Ninth Circuit case that expressly rejected the idea that the law was preempted.

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Topics: California Resale Royalty Act, Copyright

"Rime" Graffiti Case Against Moschino Survives Dismissal

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 22, 2016 at 11:45 AM

Last year street artist Joseph Tierney, better known as “Rime,” sued designer Moschino S.p.A. and its creative director, Jeremy Scott, for a variety of copyright and trademark claims based on the alleged use of Rime’s works in certain fashion lines. The presiding court has denied Moschino’s efforts to have the claim dismissed in a decision that provides an important, if implicit, endorsement of the rights of street artists under the Copyright Act, and of a novel theory under the DMCA. While some reports stated that the case was now going to trial, it is not there quite yet. It will now presumably head into discovery for the exchange of facts and information to see if there is in fact a need for a trial later. 

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Topics: Rime, Copyright, Moschino, Lanham Act

Graffiti Litigation Update: Settlements and Procedural Wrangling

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 5, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Back in October, we surveyed some developments in lawsuits over public art and protection available under copyright law in graffiti art. There has been some movement, and other developments, in these cases.

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Topics: Trademark, Copyright, Litigation

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Trending Trademarks provides comments and analysis on trademark issues affecting the fashion, high-tech, multimedia and consumer products industries.

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