Trending Trademarks

Shufflin’ Ain't Hustlin’ When It Comes to Copyright Law

Posted by Lawrence Robins on September 17, 2015 at 4:09 AM

Back in March we wrote about Taylor Swift’s efforts to register as trademarks certain lyrics and phrases related to her 1989 album and world tour. Those applications remain pending in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In the meantime, dance rap duo LMFAO just obtained summary judgment in its favor on a copyright infringement claim brought by rapper Rick Ross over merchandise bearing the phrase “Everyday I’m Shufflin’.” Ross claimed that the phrase used on merchandise infringed the copyright in the musical composition “Hustlin,’” which consists of a repeated refrain of the phrase “everyday I’m hustlin’” and the words “hustle” and “hustlin’.” Ross’ claim boiled down to this: the copyright in the musical composition as a whole also covers the oft-repeated phrase. Or to put I more simply, Ross claimed copyright in the phrase “Everyday I’m Hustlin’.” As a longtime copyright lawyer, I was LMFAO when I learned that the case got as far as it did. The case is William L. Roberts, II, et al. v. Stefan Kendal Gordy, et al.

It is basic, black letter copyright law that words and short phrases are not copyrightable subject matter and the court ruled accordingly. Furthermore, as discussed in detail in the court’s opinion, there have been more than a few prior cases that applied this rule to song lyrics, raising the question of why the Ross team thought this case was different. Ms. Swift obviously understood the different treatment accorded short phrases or slogans under trademark and copyright law and, accordingly, sought protection for her phrases as trademarks. Mr. Ross relied on copyright instead with predictable results.

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Topics: Infringement, Trademark, Copyright, Litigation, Decisions, Multimedia

The New Google Logo: A New Kind of Mark for the Digital Era

Posted by Mitchell Stein on September 8, 2015 at 11:11 AM

On September 1, 2015 Google revealed to the world its first major logo update in 16 years. The iconic Google word mark has been transformed to a new image, using Google’s new proprietary "Product Sans" font:

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Topics: Internet, Trademark, Multimedia

Trademarks and Taylor Swift: Will She License Merchandise or Just Keep Others at Bay?

Posted by Lawrence Robins on March 6, 2015 at 6:22 AM

Does Taylor Swift plan to become the Martha Stewart of the music world?

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Topics: Trademark, Multimedia

#Registered - U.S.

Posted by Natalie Lederman on February 2, 2015 at 9:00 AM

As a follow-up to our January post, “#Hashingitout: Is It Worth Registering A Hashtag?” I was interviewed by LexisNexis about the registration of hashtags. The interview was published in an article, “#Registered - U.S.,” in Lexis PSL IP & IT.

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Topics: technology, Infringement, Internet, Trademark, Food & Beverage, Registrations, Multimedia, Consumer Products

#Hashingitout: Is It Worth Registering A Hashtag?

Posted by Natalie Lederman on January 9, 2015 at 6:33 AM

Recently, the Coca-Cola Company sought to register two hashtags as trademarks: #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke. For those who may wonder why: various online social networking services (like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name a few) enable users to search a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) to identify postings on a specific topic. Hashtags are used to promote brands, campaigns, ideas or events, and trending topics can be identified by frequency of use in their respective online communities.

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Topics: technology, Internet, Trademark, Multimedia, Consumer Products

No, Your Musical Cat and Artistic Dog Aren't Going to Make You Rich

Posted by Lawrence Robins on August 26, 2014 at 12:11 PM

The plight of David Slater, a British nature photographer, has recently been in the news. Mr. Slater travelled to Indonesia in 2011 in order to photograph the crested black macaque. During the shoot, one of the animals “stole” Slater’s Nikon camera and started playing with it. Remarkably, the monkey ended up taking several “selfies,” one of which turned out strikingly clear. Because of what happened subsequently we feel like we’re on safe ground in reproducing the photo here:

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Topics: Internet, Copyright, Multimedia

Perfect Your Foreign Trademark Rights Early or Risk Losing Them Forever

Posted by Lawrence Robins on July 22, 2014 at 10:08 AM

On July 18th a U.K. judge ruled that Twentieth Century Fox Films must change the name of its television show, “Glee”, because it infringes the name of a chain of British comedy clubs named “The Glee Club.” The judge ruled in favor of the clubs on the theory of “wrong way round” confusion, which is known as “reverse confusion” in U.S. jurisprudence. Traditionally, courts address likelihood of confusion in trademark cases by determining whether customers mistake the junior user’s products as coming from the same source as those of the senior user. Reverse confusion, on the other hand, arises when the junior user so saturates the market with advertising and other promotion of its mark that the consuming public comes to believe that the senior user’s products come from the same source as those of the junior user. Fox’s promotion and broadcast of “Glee” in the UK market was apparently so overwhelming that the judge believed that consumers were likely to believe that the comedy clubs were also Fox businesses.

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Topics: Infringement, Litigation, Registrations, Multimedia

Las Vegas Sands Goes “All In” Against Online Trademark Infringement

Posted by Michael Palmisciano on July 15, 2014 at 6:53 AM

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (“Sands”), the international casino and hotel giant, is one of the most famous gaming brands in the world. To protect its famous mark from infringing uses, Sands recently left the casino and took to the internet.

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Topics: Internet, Litigation, Multimedia Withdraws ‘CANDY’ Application

Posted by Natalie Lederman on March 3, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Despite approval of its trademark application for the word ‘candy’ by the European Commission’s trademark office in early January, game developer Limited expressly abandoned its application for trademark registration of the word ‘CANDY’ in connection with its blockbuster Candy Crush Saga app this past week.

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Topics: Registrations, Multimedia Takes a Walk Down "Memory Lane"

Posted by Natalie Lederman on February 26, 2014 at 9:38 AM

This past week, a federal jury in California found that, a social networking site, did not infringe the trademark MEMORY LANE owned by sports memorabilia company Memory Lane Inc.

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Topics: Infringement, Internet, Litigation, Multimedia

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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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