Posted On: July 30, 2008

Central District Of California Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Filed By Dietary Supplement Company Over Website: Copyright Attorneys

Los Angeles, CA – Copyright attorneys for dietary supplement company Iwin Labs filed a copyright infringement lawsuit, in the Central District Of California (Los Angeles Division), accusing rival nutritional company of copying its website design. The complaint asserts that in June of 2008, Iwin Labs developed and created an acai berry dietary supplement and created a website that promotes and sells the supplement. Based upon Iwin’s success, the Defendants allegedly “proceeded to copy Iwin Labs’ website and product labels, word for word, color for color, image for image (though at times making uninspired attempts to be ‘just a little’ different, but still most definitely similar enough to steal customers from Iwin Labs and wreak havoc on Iwin Labs’ customer relations).” The following are screen shots of the parties’ websites as represented in the complaint:

copyright-attorney-central-district-of-california-dietary.jpg

The complaint continues, “what is worse, Defendants not only copied and otherwise misappropriated Iwin Labs’ intellectual property, they made an active and concerted effort to fool the public by using the exact same online marketers and advertising agents that Iwin Labs had previously used, thereby greatly increasing the probability that repeat visitors looking for the Iwin Labs website would end up on Defendants’ nearly identical web pages.” Plaintiff requests statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1). Plaintiff also requests that the court order the defendants to pay the costs of the lawsuit and reasonable attorneys’ fees pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505. The case is titled: Iwin Labs, LLC v. Crush, LLC, CV08-04695 MMM (Central District of California 2008).

PRACTICE NOTE: 17 U.S.C. 504(c)(2) provides an increase in the statutory damages to $150,000.00 per infringement if it is deemed to be intentional. However, the Plaintiff’s state causes of action for statutory and common law unfair competition appear to be preempted by the Copyright Act and should be dismissed.

Posted On: July 28, 2008

Purse Designs Trigger A Trademark and Copyright Infringement Lawsuit By Louis Vuitton’s Trademark Attorneys In The Central District Of California

Los Angeles, CA – Trademark attorneys for Louis Vuitton filed a trademark infringement, Lanham Act § 43(a) unfair competition (15 U.S.C. § 1125), counterfeiting, and copyright infringement complaint at the Federal District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles Division) to protect its purse designs from being copied. The luxury goods manufacturer began selling its luggage in France in 1854 and in the United States in 1893. In 1896, Louis Vuitton created the LV monogram with three motifs (shown below) and registered it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1932. Louis Vuitton has additional design/logo trademarks that are also registered with the USPTO. Further, Louis Vuitton owns certain copyright registrations in the U.S. Copyright Office covering its Multicolor Monogram design.

purse-design-copyright-trademark-protection-louis.jpgDefendants are alleged to have counterfeited and infringed on Louis Vuitton’s trademarks and copyrighted works by selling unauthorized goods, such as purses and handbags. Louis Vuitton alleges that “the activities of Defendants complained of herein constitute willful and intentional counterfeiting and infringement of the Louis Vuitton Trademarks and Copyrighted Work; are in total disregard of the Plaintiff’s rights and were commenced and have continued in spite of Defendants’ knowledge that the use of the Louis Vuitton Trademarks and Copyrighted Work, or copies or imitations thereof, was and is in direct contravention of Plaintiff’s rights.” The case is titled Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Mido Trading, Inc., et al., CV 08-04405 DDP (C.D. Cal. 2008).

PRACTICE NOTE: The defendants’ website, midotrading.com, has been taken offline at the time of this post. That does not appear to be a good omen for defendants. I previously posted (Click Here) about the Louis Vuitton and “Chewie Vuiton” parody case, where the defendant’s parodical use of the LV Monogram was found to not infringe on Louis Vuitton’s trademarks or copyrights.

Posted On: July 25, 2008

Los Angeles Patent Attorneys Filed Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Easton Sports Over Collapsible Sport Training Net

UPDATE 11/20/2008: The Court dismissed the patent infringement case with prejudice because the parties settled. Each party bears its own attorneys' fees and costs.

Los Angeles, CA – Patent attorneys for Patent Category Corporation (“PCC”) filed a patent infringement lawsuit at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, accusing Easton Sports of infringing three PCC utility patents. PCC is the assignee of the inventions covered by U.S. Patent No. 6,357,510, entitled “Collapsible Support Frames,” U.S. Patent No. 6,604,537, entitled “Collapsible Structures,” and U.S. Patent No. 6,758,003, entitled “Collapsible Structures Supported On A Pole.” The patents generally relate to flexible structures that are foldable and comprise support nets, which, in one preferred embodiment, may be used in practicing sports.

los-angeles-patent-attorney-sports-easton.jpgThe complaint alleges that Easton Sport’s five foot pop-up multi net (pictured herein) and seven foot catch net infringe on the patents-at-issue. “PCC has been damaged by Easton’s infringement of each of the patents-in-suit in an amount to be determined at trial. Furthermore, by these acts, Easton has irreparably injured PCC and such injury will continue unless Easton is enjoined by this Court.” The case is titled Patent Category Corporation v. Easton Sports, Inc., CV 08-04617 DDP (C.D. Cal. 2008).

Posted On: July 23, 2008

Los Angeles Copyright Attorneys Filed A Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against An Alhambra Lounge For Playing Music Without A License

Los Angeles, CA – Copyright attorneys for several plaintiffs, including Sony and Gwen Stefani, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles accusing Alhambra based Havana House Cigars & Lounge of publicly performing copyrighted music without a license from ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. The complaint alleges that on January 11, 2008, presumably when their investigator was at the Lounge, and on several occasions thereafter, the five copyrighted musical compositions were publicly played and performed. Plaintiffs assert that the Lounge will continue to publicly play and perform these songs unless it is enjoined by the Court.

los-angeles-copyright-attorney-alhambra-havana.jpgThe complaint alleges that ASCAP, on behalf of the copyright owners, contacted the defendant and informed him that a copyright license was needed in order to publicly perform the copyrighted music at the Lounge. The defendant, however, has allegedly not agreed to pay for the license and has continued to play the songs at issue. Plaintiffs request statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1), of not more than $30,000.00 and not less than $750.00 for each copyrighted song. Plaintiffs also request that the court order the defendant to pay the costs of the lawsuit and reasonable attorneys’ fees pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505. The case is titled: Sony/ATV Harmony v. Alfred Campano, CV08-03947 PA (C.D. Cal. 2008).

PRACTICE NOTE: 17 U.S.C. 504(c)(2) provides an increase in the statutory damages to $150,000.00 per infringement if it is deemed to be intentional. Also, if a restaurant or public establishment unreasonably believed that it was exempt from licensing requirements under 17 U.S.C. § 110(5), the copyright plaintiff, in addition to other damages under section 504, will be entitled to two times the license fee which it should have paid for the preceding three-year period. Because of the varying affiliations between record companies and the licensing societies, a license from each of the following licensing societies must be obtained to cover the music owned by the various recording companies:
ASCAP: 1-800-505-4052
BMI: 1-800-925-8451
SESAC: 1-800-826-9996

Posted On: July 21, 2008

E! Entertainment’s Trademark Attorneys Filed A Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Over Blogger’s Use of enewsbuzz.com

Los Angeles, CA – Trademark attorneys for E! Entertainment Television filed a trademark infringement, cybersquatting, and Lanham Act § 43(a) unfair competition (15 U.S.C. § 1125) complaint at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, over entertainment/celebrity news blogger’s use of the enewsbuzz.com domain name. The complaint provides a summary of E! Entertainment’s beginnings in 1990 as the only 24-hour network with programming dedicated to the world of entertainment and celebrity news. It currently “is the world’s largest producer and distributor of entertainment news and lifestyle-related programming." E! alleges that “E! News” and “E! News Weekend” are its most popular television programs and both trademarks have been registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

los-angeles-trademark-attorney-e-entertainment.jpgE! alleges that long after it commenced use of its famous E! Marks and E! NEWS Marks, Defendants began business under the ENewsBuzz trademark using the enewsbuzz.com domain name to provide similar services, “Defendants use the ENEWSBUZZ mark, trade name, and domain names in connection with providing gossip, news and images of Hollywood celebrities.” Defendants are alleged to have adopted the confusingly similar mark in order to benefit from the goodwill established by E!: “significantly, Defendants’ ENEWSBUZZ mark is depicted on its website with the letter “E” offset in bold red – the same color that E! Entertainment has been using in connection with the “E!” portion of its E! Marks and E! NEWS Marks for many years.” The lawsuit was filed after the Defendants refused to cease using the subject trademark and domain name in response to E!’s correspondence. In addition to preliminary and permanent injunctions, E! also seeks monetary damages. The case is titled E! Entertainment Television, Inc. v. Louie De Filippis et al., CV 08-04355 ODW (C.D. Cal. 2008).

Posted On: July 18, 2008

Los Angeles Patent Attorneys File Patent Infringement Lawsuit Over Disk Drive Technology

Los Angeles, CA – A patent infringement lawsuit was filed by Xyratex’s patent attorneys at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, accusing Teradyne of infringing on its disk drive patent. Xyratex is the owner by assignment of the invention covered by U.S. Patent No. 6,826,046, entitled “Disk Drive Unit.” The patent relates to asynchronous disk drive testing field, where by controlling the temperature of each disk drive in a testing apparatus that houses multiple disk drives enables each disk drive to be tested independently.

los-angeles-patent-attorney-disk-drive-xyratex.jpgThe complaint alleges that Teradyne has subsequently designed, manufactured, and offered for sale asynchronous disk drive test equipment that controls the temperature of individual disk drives in a testing apparatus that houses multiple disk drives. Xyratex states that it has not been able to study Defendant’s product and compare it to the ‘046 patent, in order to comply with it pre-suit investigation, because the Defendant’s product and/or specifications are not publicly available. Representatives of both parties allegedly met and Xyratex asked the defendant to provide an analysis and explanation of why Teradyne’s product does not infringe the ‘046 patent. Teradyne has allegedly refused to provide such explanation, resulting in the filing of the instant lawsuit. In addition to monetary damages, Xyratex also seeks both preliminary and permanent injunctions against further alleged infringement. The case is titled Xyratex Technology, Inc. v. Teradyne, Inc., CV 08-04545 SJO (C.D. Cal. 2008).

Posted On: July 16, 2008

Los Angeles Trademark Attorneys Filed A Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against Genetic Denim’s Stitching Trademark On Jeans

Los Angeles, CA – Trademark attorneys for Project E filed a trademark infringement and Lanham Act § 43(a) unfair competition (15 U.S.C. § 1125) complaint at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles over Genetic Denim’s use of a double helix design stitching on jeans’ pockets. Plaintiff asserts that it is the owner of the “XX” trademark, which comprises two adjacent Xs stitched into garments, and first used the trademark in 2004. Although, the Plaintiff does not sell jeans/denim, it claims that the mark has been used on polo shirts and sweaters and that the goods are substantially related.

los-angeles-trademark-attorney-genetic-projec-e.jpgGenetic Denim uses a DNA double helix stitched into the jeans’ back-pockets and – playing on the genetic theme –an “XY” stitching is used on the front of jeans for men and an “XX” stitching is used on the front of jeans for women. The complaint alleges that Genetic Denim’s “use of the trademark or a substantially similar trademark is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception as to the source or origin of defendant’s goods in that the public and others are likely to believe that defendant’s goods are manufactured, distributed or sold by, or sponsored by, or approved by, or licensed by, or affiliated with, or in some other way legitimately connected to plaintiff. Such public confusion has and will continue to cause irreparable harm to plaintiff.” In addition to preliminary and permanent injunctions, Plaintiff also seeks monetary damages. The case is titled Project E, Inc. v. Genetic Denim, LLC, CV 08-04016 R (C.D. Cal. 2008).

Posted On: July 14, 2008

United States Copyright Office Now Accepting Electronic Filing of Copyright Registration Applications: LA Copyright Attorney

copyright-registration-attorney-application-los-angeles.jpgLos Angeles, CA – The United States Copyright Office, as of July 1, 2008, began accepting electronic filings of copyright applications for registration. The Copyright Office provided tips for navigating the new online copyright registration system, named electronic Copyright Office (eCO). A frequently asked question (FAQ) page is provided on the Copyright Office website to address the most common concerns. Also, an eCO tutorial is provided to familiarize users with the new online registration format. Currently, the following basic copyright claims can be registered through the eCO: literary works, visual arts works, performing arts works, sound recordings, motion pictures, and single serial issues.

The advantages of e-filing of copyright applications include:

  • Lower filing fee of $35 for a basic copyright claim (for online filings only)
  • Fastest processing time of copyright registration applications
  • Online status tracking of copyright registration applications
  • Secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check, or Copyright Office deposit account
  • The ability to upload certain categories of deposits directly into eCO as electronic files

Even users who intend to submit a hard copy of the work being registered may file an application and payment online and print out an eCO-generated shipping slip to be attached to the hardcopy deposit.

At this time, the following types of copyright registration are not available in eCO: renewals, corrections, mask works, vessel hulls, groups of serial issues, groups of newspaper/newsletter issues, groups of database updates, and groups of contributions to periodicals.

Posted On: July 11, 2008

Los Angeles Copyright Attorneys For MGM Filed A Copyright Declaratory Judgment Action Over Music Used In “Snow White”

Los Angeles, CA – MGM’s copyright attorneys filed a copyright declaratory judgment of non-infringement lawsuit, under 28 U.S.C. § 2201, at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles. MGM is the successor in interest and owner of the copyrights in the 1987 live-action motion picture Snow White, which was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. MGM asserts that defendant, Arik Rudich, is an individual now residing in Israel, who composed certain music and/or songs included in the picture, which picture MGM’s predecessor distributed to the home video market beginning in 1988 and MGM has continued such distribution.

los-angeles-copyright-attorney-sw-mgm.jpgThe complaint alleges that almost twenty years after the picture’s first distribution, Rudich’s counsel sent a cease and desist letter to MGM accusing it of copyright infringement in music and demanding payment of publishing royalties. On May 9, 2008, defendant or his counsel issued a press release repeating claims against MGM and referencing another lawsuit filed against MGM by the same counsel. On June 5, 2008, defendant’s counsel once against sent a letter to MGM threatening a lawsuit if a response was not received. Thus, MGM filed the declaratory judgment lawsuit seeking declarations from the Court concerning, among other things, the following:

  • Whether defendant wrote the songs as a work-for-hire or assigned all rights therein;
  • Whether defendant granted a license to the songs to be used in connection with all forms of exploitation of the picture, including VHS and DVD;
  • Whether defendant is entitled to any publishing royalties;
  • Whether defendant’s claims are barred by the statute of limitations; and/or
  • Whether defendant’s claims are barred by the doctrine of laches.

The case is titled Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Arik Rudich, CV 08-04143 JFW (C.D. Cal. 2008).

Posted On: July 9, 2008

Skechers’ Los Angeles Patent Attorneys Filed A Patent and Trade Dress Infringement Lawsuit Alleging Copying Of Shoe Designs

Los Angeles, CA –Patent attorneys for Manhattan Beach based Skechers U.S.A. filed a patent infringement, trade dress infringement, and Lanham Act § 43(a) unfair competition (15 U.S.C. § 1125) complaint at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles.

los-angeles-patent-attorney-shoe-design-skechers.jpgSkechers asserts that it is the owner of a distinctive trade dress in the appearance and features of its Biker-Sightsee™ Series of footwear/shoes. “Skechers has expended substantial effort and funds in promoting the goodwill of the Skechers Biker-Sightsee™ Series in developing a consumer association of the Biker-Sightsee™ Series as emanating from Skechers. It has expended many millions of dollars promoting and advertising its Bikers-Sightsee™ Searies footwear. It has entered into agreements with celebrities such as American Idol Winner Carrie Underwood and platinum recording star Ashlee Simpson to appear in ads featureing the Biker-Sightsee™ Series footwear.”

As additional intellectual property protection for its shoe design, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office issued U.S. Patent No. Des. 532,962 to Skechers. Skechers alleges that the Defendant was sent notice that its shoe design was infringing on Skechers’ patent and trade dress rights and that Defendant replied that it would modify its shoe design and stop selling the shoes at issue. The Defendant, however, has allegedly not ceased selling the infringing shoes, thereby forcing litigation. The case is titled Skechers U.S.A., Inc. v. Aetrex Worldwide, Inc., CV 08-03831 GAF (C.D. Cal. 2008).

PRACTICE NOTE: Skechers has used both design patents and trade dress rights to protect its shoes’ designs. Trade dress protection continues in the design so long as the trade dress is being used by the owner; whereas, design patents expire after fourteen years. Thus, although Skechers’ design patent will eventually expire, Skechers will still be able to prevent the copying of its shoe design through asserting its trade dress rights – assuming they are not abandoned in the future.

Posted On: July 7, 2008

Rock & Republic Filed A Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Over Its “R” Logo Used On Jeans/Clothing: Los Angeles Trademark Attorneys

Los Angeles, CA –Trademark attorneys for Rock & Republic jeans/clothing company filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Rich & Skinny jeans at the Los Angeles Federal District Court. Rock & Republic began using stylized “R” trademarks on its clothing line as early as 2002. Several different versions of the “R” logos are registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. “Rock & Republic applies its stylized “R” trademarks to the back pocket of its jeans and pants. Since their creation and first sale, products bearing Rock & Republic’s stylized “R” trademarks have been enormously successful.”

los-angeles-trademark-attorney-jeans-stitching-logo-rock-republic.jpgThe complaint continues: “The various stylized “R” trademarks, including the Rock & Republic Stylized “R” Mark have acquired a strong secondary meaning and are strong trademarks. Rock & Republic’s stylized “R” trademarks, including the Rock & Republic Stylized “R” Mark, and associated products, have become famous.” Rock & Republic alleges that defendant began operations in 2006 and is “in the business of manufacturing, advertising, selling, and distributing apparel, including denim jeans.” Rich & Skinny is accused of copying the stylized “R” trademark and selling apparel/jeans in similar channels as Rock & Republic, which is alleged to likely confuse consumers. The complaint asserts the following causes of action: (1) Federal trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1114; (2) False designation of origin under section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a); (3) Federal trademark dilution, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c); (4) Injury to business reputation and dilution under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 14330; and, (5) Unfair competition under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200. The case is titled: Rock & Republic Enterprises, Inc. v. Rich & Skinny, Inc., CV08-04199 PSG (C.D. Cal. 2008).

Posted On: July 2, 2008

NBC Sued For Copyright Infringement Over “My Name Is Earl” Television Show/Screenplay/Script

Los Angeles, CA – Mark Gable’s copyright attorneys filed a lawsuit at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles accusing NBC’s “My Name Is Earl” television show of copyright infringement. Gable alleges that he authored a wholly original screenplay entitled “Karma” in 1995 and registered it with the Writers Guild of America (“WGA”) and – over nine years later – it was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office on September 20, 2004. In 1995, Gable alleges that he “distributed and circulated the screenplay to several literary agents and production companies, including, but not limited to, International Creative Management, William Morris, Creative Artist Agency, The Gersh Agency, United Talent Agency, and Alice Fries Agency,” which agencies are also believed to represent the producers named in the lawsuit, thus providing a scenario for access to Gable’s screenplay.

author-screenplay-copyright-attorney-gable-nbc.jpgIn August of 2005, Gable allegedly discovered that “NBC was airing a new television series entitled, “My Name is Earl” containing the same, somewhat unusual, literary theme as the Screenplay; i.e. turning bad Karma into good Karma by righting past wrongs/making amends. After viewing several episodes of the Television Series, Gable formed the belief that the Television Series was very similar to the screenplay, incorporating wholly original elements therefrom.” Gable hired a third-party to make extensive comparisons between the screenplay and the television series, including the theme, plot, dialog, setting/place, mood, and characters (some of whom have the same names). The results of the comparison led Gable to believe that his screenplay was copied and the lawsuit was filed. The case is titled: Mark Gable v. National Broadcasting Company (“NBC”) and Gregory Thomas Garcia, CV08-04013 SVW (C.D. Cal. 2008).

PRACTICE NOTE: I am often asked by writers whether it is sufficient to register a screenplay with the WGA or SAG, and my answer is always a resounding NO. The most important place to register a screenplay or script is with the U.S. Copyright Office. In order to file a lawsuit to prevent the copying of a work, you MUST have registered the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. In order to recover statutory damages and attorneys’ fees from infringers, the work must have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before the commencement of the infringement or within three months from the date of publication. 17 U.S.C. § 412. In order to obtain prima facie evidence of ownership in the screenplay/script, the work must have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. I cannot emphasize the importance of filing your work of authorship with the U.S. Copyright Office first, in addition to registering it with the WGA or SGA. In fact, if you can only afford to register the work with one entity, it should be the U.S. Copyright Office in order to avail yourself to the advantages afforded by a copyright registration certificate.