Geekview IP Weeks(ish) in Review Con’t.

Posted by | January 31, 2012 | Disputes, Geekview IP recap, General | No Comments

Holy Super Bowl®!

To some folks these images are synonymous, at least on the holy day of Super Bowl Sunday.  The National Football League (NFL) takes football very seriously and it takes the Super Bowl even more so.  The NFL has 8 U.S. federal trademark registrations that include the word SUPER BOWL.  The oldest registration is for a football type board game, which was granted trademark registration in 1968 on the Supplemental Register.  The most recent registration (granted in 2006) is for a variety of goods including cell phone covers, CDs, audio tapes & DVDs featuring football, jewelry, commemorative coins, belt buckles, posters, trading cards, wrapping paper and toys to name but a few of the few dozen items listed in the registration.  This year, the NFL announced new rules that allow places of religious worship to display the Super Bowl broadcast on site without fear of repercussions from the NFL. 

According to an
article on CopyrightSolver (launched in 2001 out of a desire to provide online solutions to simplify the copyright clearance process for Churches), a church must hold its “viewing party” in its usual place of worship and must not charge a fee for attending, in which case the NFL will not object to the church having a party for its congregants to watch the Super Bowl® together.  The NFL made clear that this “pass” applies to parties on church property only and does not extend to rented spaces.  Meanwhile, Senator Hatch is sure to be thanking God SOPA and PIPA didn’t pass . . .

Senator Hatch taken to task for conduct he seeks to curtail.

According to an article on OneUtah, Senator Orrin Hatch recently engaged in exactly the behavior he sought to outlaw under SOPA and PIPA (about which I wrote here and here).  Michael Jolley is a blogger who reports on Utah politics and supports the Dethrone Orrin Hatch movement.  He’s also a photographer who takes photos of political events and posts them to his account on flickr.  While 6 term Utah Senator Orrin Hatch probably doesn’t care much for Jolley’s politics, he apparently really likes his photos, including the one on the bottom right of Senator Hatch’s website, shown above.  Apparently, Jolley licensed the work to others under the Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 license, which allows all third party use — including commercial use — so long as attribution is given.  Apparently, Hatch failed to comply with this simple requirement, which could have caused Hatch’s entire website to be taken off-line were SOPA to have passed.  Jolley apparently called Hatch out on the issue on the Utah Republican Party’s Facebook page, to which Hatch’s campaign manager publicly replied via Facebook: “Now let me get this straight Michael. You took a picture of the Senator, then tagged it to his facebook account in effect saying ‘Here is a picture I took of you,’ without any reference to a copyright, now months later you are whining about “copyright infringement.”  You will have a long, cold wait for a press conference of apology.  Get a life.”  Get a life?!?  How about get a clue, Senator Hatch & Crew!  The Copyright Act hasn’t required published works to bear a copyright notice since March 1, 1989, but, hey.  Why should we expect Senator Hatch or his staff to know such details about copyright law?  After all, they’re charged with creating the laws, not understanding or abiding by them; right?  Senators may be able to dance around IP laws, but mere mortals may not . . .

Ballet companies go toe to toe over reality show.


Only reality TV could possibly lead to such drama!  I wonder what percentage of reality TV shows wind up in IP litigation.  Seems like the percentage is fairly high.  John Harris Masterson, on the other hand, must’ve been feeling pretty low recently when he filed a lawsuit against Lisa Jenkins and Dreamfly Productions alleging copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract, essentially claiming that Ms. Jenkins and Dreamfly stole his ideas for a ballet themed reality-based television series called The Starting Pointe.  According to the complaint, Masterson created a reality TV show in 2005 called The Starting Pointe, which followed the dancers, producers and artistic directors in the Texas Ballet Theater.  Masterson registered his series with the Writers Guild in 2006 and he registered his unpublished textual work with the US Copyright Office in 2009.  He met Ms. Jenkins in August, 2010 and in September, 2010 he hired her to produce The Starting Pointe.  By February 2011, the parties acrimoniously went their separate ways, memorializing their split in a settlement agreement in April, 2011, which the lawsuit claims made clear all intellectual property rights to The Starting Pointe remained with Masterson.  Masterson got suspicious when Jenkins and Dreamfly issued a press release in July, 2011 announcing their new reality show En Pointe.  HauteLiving.com ran an article about it and the show even launched its own Facebook page.  Now Masterson seeks to stop the show from airing and to have his attorneys’ fees covered by the other side (if he wins on his copyright infringement claim, he will be entitled to his attorneys’ fees since he registered his work in timely manner (prior to publication and infringement).  If the allegations in the complaint are true, Dreamfly really stepped in it and it’s probably gonna need more than a hose to come clean from this one.  Ballerinas and politicians, this seems to be the episode of folks sticking their foot in their mouth . . .

History matters and so do right of publicity laws.  Or do they?

According to an article on Fox News, NBC asked Mitt Romney to pull the campaign ad shown above, which began airing in Florida a couple weekends ago.  The Fox News article states that NBC’s Vice President of Media Law, David Sternlicht, expressed NBC’s stern dislike of the footage, which extensively uses an NBC News broadcast clip of Tom Brokaw and “inaccurately suggests that NBC News and Mr. Brokaw have consented to the use of this material and agree with the political position espoused by the videos.”  While NBC’s alleged copyright infringement allegations are suspect under the copyright fair use doctrine, Brokaw does in fact have a right of publicity which enables him to control commercial use of his name and image.  I’m pretty sure that running for office is a commercial endeavor (which is why Buddy Roemer (who won’t take donations larger than $100.00) hasn’t any traction, even if America Needs Buddy for President), so I don’t see why Brokaw couldn’t pursue this personally should he so choose.  Meanwhile NBC’s probably grateful they approached Romney’s campaign directly, rather than seeking to have the ad removed from the internet under a DMCA request only to be outed by YouTube or Twitter . . .

Twitter tells all!

ars technica recently reported that Twitter, in connection with the Chilling Effects, has made all 4,410 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices that it received from November, 2010 through the present available at <Chilling Effects.org/Twitter>.  Since publicly releasing its list, Twitter has received only one DMCA Notice, which was filed on January 10, 2012 by counsel for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — alleging a link posted on Twitter to a website where infringing sheet music could be downloaded for free.  According to the story on ars technica, takedown notices typically contains links to tweets that in turn link to websites where pirated versions of copyrighted material is distributed and the requests usually seek the removal of that tweet not the whole Twitter account.  Google apparently used to catalog the takedown notices it received with Chilling Effects as well, though it seems to have ceased doing so in 2006.  Brand Geek fully supports this type of transparency, especially when it comes to drastic measures like takedown notices.  The more accountability the marketplace demands, the better businesses will behave, at least in theory.

Information travels across the internet faster than most of us can think.  That can be a boon for a business when the news is good, or a bane for a business when the news is bad.  As this week’s news demonstrates, we’re all under the spotlight now; whether we choose to sink or shine is up to us.

About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.