Whatever Happened to Cindy-Lou Who?

Earlier this year I wrote about a copyright dispute between playwright Matthew Lombardo and the estate of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. The issue was whether Lombardo had infringed on the Seuss copyright with his derivative play Who’s Holiday — or whether the play constituted fair use. As I wrote back in March: Who’s Holiday […] Read More

Cutting Through the Confusion: The Second Circuit Decides Who’s on First

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has just rendered a decision regarding the classic Abbott and Costello bit, “Who’s on First?” (Full disclosure: I memorized the routine when I was a kid. My sons call me a nerd. They’re right.) The case involves the one-minute use of “Who’s on First” in a play entitled Hand […] Read More

Selfie-Awareness

Recently the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made news when it granted appellate review of what rights a monkey has to his intellectual property. The case — Naruto, a crested macaque, by and through his next friends, People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA], Inc. v. David John Slater, et […] Read More

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

In this post, names and circumstances have been changed to obscure the guilty. Let’s say that my client makes plain sweatshirts, and on the back of some of these blank sweatshirts, someone else had printed Alamo-related text and imagery and was selling them. They were doing this on behalf of a local community baseball team […] Read More

Disney v. VidAngel Part 2: The Revenge of the Ninth Circuit

In late August, the 9th Circuit in California delivered a blow to a legal argument that was questionable to begin with, and was doomed by the defendant’s eagerness to share it. In Disney v. VidAngel, the culture war served as the background of a battle between content goliaths — Disney, LucasFilm, Twentieth Century Fox, and […] Read More

A Troll Is Born

In May of 2016, a Facebook Live user named Kali Kanongataa offered the world something uplifting, graphic and intimate: the birth of his son for all the world to see. According to Kanongataa, he had originally attempted to share the live broadcast only with his Facebook connections, but mistakenly broadcast to all of Facebook — […] Read More

Hotel California: A Great Song, a Great Title, But a Great Hotel?

Here’s the case of a dark, desert highway with, perhaps, a cool wind in your hair:  The Eagles Ltd v. Hotel California of Baja. It concerns a hotel in Mexico that had been opened in the 1950s under the name Hotel California. The owners decided to stop using that name and retitled the property “The […] Read More

A Friend of a Friend Said… You Should Actually See a Lawyer

The other day a client sent me two pictures. One was of a someone else’s textile design, and the other was my client’s own rendering of it. The client said “We copied our design from their design. Can you tell us whether it’s infringing?” Rather than respond to the email, I called my client and reminded him […] Read More

“UL” is Not in the Public Domain. Don’t Mess with Certification Marks!

What two words are worth $500,000 each? In the case of HOVERBOARD® The Space Chariot, those two word are “UL Certified.” (Yes, HOVERBOARD is a federally registered trademark; while it appears to be on the road to becoming generic, that’s a topic for another day.) Why they are called HOVERBOARDs is beyond me. They clearly […] Read More

Breitbart’s Biggest Enemy is the Truth…Including Todd Bigelow’s Copyright

A lawsuit was recently filed in the Southern District of New York that isn’t exactly fascinating for its merits, but it does speak to the perennial issue of intellectual property rights: the erroneous but popular idea, even among commercial users, that “if it’s on the internet, it’s free to use!”   In Bigelow v. Breitbart […] Read More