June 23, 2010

Odd Rods Cartoon Trading Cards And Stickers In Copyright and Trademark Dispute

trademark-copyright-lawyer-odd-rods-infringement-invalidity.jpgLos Angeles, CA – Cartoonist/illustrator B.K. Taylor created the Odd Rods group of trading cards and sticker series in 1969 for the Donruss company. The theme for the cartoons was monsters driving cars, hot rods, and motorcycles. Around 2006, Plaintiff DZ Hart allegedly acquired the copyright and trademark rights to the collection. Subsequently, DZ Hart and Taylor entered into a consulting agreement for Taylor to design artwork for DZ. Plaintiff alleges that no products were created as a result of the agreement and it was terminated in January of 2009.

DZ then contracted a third-party to work on the project, which third party was contacted by Taylor’s attorney in June of this year and notified of Taylor’s claim of ownership in the Odd Rods intellectual property. Taylor allegedly sent the third-party a discussion draft of a proposed cooperation agreement between Taylor and EZ, which EZ claims is unenforceable because it was not executed. DZ alleges that Taylor never had exclusive rights to the disputed intellectual property and, if Taylor ever had any, the rights have lapsed due to abandonment and/or termination of all such rights and are now in the public domain. DZ has filed the declaratory judgment action asking the Court to rule that Taylor has no intellectual property rights in the Odd Rods characters. A copy of the complaint is available here. The case is DZ Hart Ltd. Liability Co., v. B.K. Taylor, CV10-4489 PSG (C.D. Cal. 2010).

Here's the promotional video that also provides a history of "Odd Rods" narrated by Scott Baio:

June 15, 2010

Twilight Saga: Bella And Twilight Clothing Unleashes Trademark And Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Los Angeles, CA – Summit Entertainment is the producer and distributor of the highly successful Twilight motion picture franchise, including The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and the soon to be released Eclipse. The movies are about a teenage girl, Isabella (Bella”) Swan, who falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen. Bella’s other suitor in the film is Jacob Black, a werewolf, which love triangle always makes for a good motion picture franchise. Summit is the owner of several federally registered trademarks for “TWILIGHT” and also owns the trademark for “BELLA”, which trademarks have been used for clothing. Summit is also the copyright owner in the promotional image (shown below) depicting the character Bella from the Twilight movies.

twilight-bella-jacket-trademark-copyright-infringement-lawsuit-attorney.jpg

Defendants B.B. Dakota, Modcloth, and Metropark are accused of selling jackets using the “Twilight” and “Bella” trademarks in conjunction with the Bella image without authorization. Summit not only seeks Defendants’ profits from the sales of the allegedly infringing products, but also asks the Court to treble the damages because Defendants are accused of intentional infringement. The case is Summit Entertainment, LLC, v. B.B. Dakota, Inc., CV10-4328 GAF (C.D. Cal. 2010).

June 1, 2010

“Torture Room” Movie and Screenplay Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Filed

copyright-lawyer-movie-screenplay-torture-room.jpegLos Angeles, CA – Randles Films is the owner of the copyright registrations in the original “Torture Room” screenplay and the revisions thereto. Randles also produced the movie and also registered the copyright therefor. Defendants Quantum, Moviebank, and Bridge Entertainment are accused of wrongfully copying and distributing the movie. Randles also accuses the Defendants of infringing its unregistered “Torture Room” and “Cerebral Experiment” trademarks by applying them to the packaging. The case is Randle Films, LLC v. Quantum Releasing, LLC, et al., CV10-3909 SJO (C.D. Cal. 2010).

May 26, 2010

Court Grants Preliminary Injunction In “I Love You Phillip Morris” Movie Copyright Case

copyright-attorney-preliminary-injunction-i-love-you-phillip-morris.jpgLos Angeles, CA – EuropaCorp, the motion picture studio behind the “I Love You Phillip Morris” movie, was granted a preliminary injunction in its copyright infringement and breach of contract lawsuit against the distributor Consolidated Pictures Group. Consolidated Pictures had been granted all U.S. domestic distribution rights in the movie, but had allegedly failed to make timely payments under the agreements. Details blogged here.

The Court enjoined Consolidated Pictures from publicly displaying or exhibiting any portion of the movie and attempting to negotiate agreements regarding the distribution, exhibition, or exploitation of the movie. Order available here.

The case is EuropaCorp v. Consolidated Pictures Group, Inc., et al., CV10-2917 DSF (C.D. Cal. 2010).

May 3, 2010

EuropaCorp Sues Consolidated Pictures Over Distribution Of “I Love You Phillip Morris” Movie

copyright-attorney-film-movie-europacorp-consolidated-pictures.jpgLos Angeles, CA – EuropaCorp is a French motion picture studio that produced the feature film “I Love You Phillip Morris,” starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. In a May 8, 2009 agreement, EuropaCorp licensed to Consolidated Pictures all domestic distribution rights in the movie, including all theatrical, home video, and television rights. In exchange, Consolidated Pictures was to pay a $3 million advance. After the licensing agreement was executed, EuropaCorp alleges that it delivered the movie and marketing materials; however, a dispute arose between the parties as to the timing of delivery. The dispute was addressed by the execution of an amendment to the license agreement in February of 2010.

EuropaCorp now contends that Defendants have breached the agreement by failing to make the installment payments towards the $3 million advance. As a result, EuropaCorp rescinded the agreement and sought return of the movie and marketing materials. EuropaCorp alleges that Defendants have refused to return the movie or acknowledge the rescission of the distribution rights. Thus, the instant copyright infringement and breach of contract suit was filed. The case is EuropaCorp v. Consolidated Pictures Group, Inc., et al., CV10-2917 DSF (C.D. Cal. 2010).

Here's the trailer:


April 28, 2010

InStyler® Hair Brush Products Subject of Copyright and Trademark Infringement Lawsuits

copyright-attorney-trademark-instyler-hair-beauty-product.jpgLos Angeles, CA – Tre Milano is the owner of the InStyler® trademark and several copyrights used in the sale and advertising of its hair styling product, including a copyright registration for its www.getinstyler.com website. You may have seen one of its infomercials for its “rotating iron” hair brush, a hair product that combines a hair brush and rotating hot iron to curl, straighten, and style hair. Since its first sale in June of 2008, Plaintiff contends that it has spent $30,000,000.00 to air its television infomercials and $5,000,000.00 on print and internet advertising. As a result, Plaintiff asserts that its trademark has become famous.

Plaintiff asserts that its investigator purchased an “InStyler” rotating hot iron from Defendants’ eBay listing for $65.99, which was charged to the investigator's PayPal account. In advertising and selling the "InStyler" products, Plaintiff further contends that Defendants use images that infringe on Plaintiff’s copyrights and use trademarks that are confusingly similar to Plaintiff’s. In addition to the trademark and copyright infringement causes of action, Plaintiff also asserts Lanham Act and § 17200 unfair completion, trademark dilution, accounting, and unjust infringement causes of action. The case is Tre Milano, Inc. v. Daryl Ewald et al., CV10-2849 SVW (C.D. Cal. 2010).

April 13, 2010

FarmVille, Zynga Poker & Mafia Wars Maker Sues PlayerAuctions.com For Trademark & Copyright Infringement

zynga-farmville-trademark-attorney-copyright.jpgLos Angeles, CA – Zynga Game Network is a social gaming company and provides numerous games, such as Zynga Poker, Mafia Wars, FarmVille, YoVille, Cafe World and Word Twist, that are available on Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, iPhone and iPod Touch, among others. Zynga has several pending USPTO trademark applications for its Mafia Wars, Farmville and Yoville trademarks and several copyright registrations for the games as well. Zynga asserts that its games have been a runaway success, with an increase from 1.3 million daily users in July of 2008 to 9.5 million daily users in May of 2009.

When players sign up with Zynga to play the games, they receive a certain amount of virtual currency, which amount can increase through continued play and purchased directly from Zynga. The virtual currency is then used to purchase virtual goods that are used in the games. The “Terms of Service” prohibit the use of virtual currency or goods for real-world money and Zynga does not authorize any third party to sell virtual currency or virtual goods.

In the lawsuit, Zynga accuses Defendant of allowing users to post and sell virtual currency or virtual goods to be used in Znyga’s games on its playerauctions.com website. Zynga claims that in addition to using Zynga’s trademarks without authorization, Defendant profits from the sale of virtual currency and goods by selling them for real-world money in violation of the “Terms of Service” agreement. Further, Defendant is accused of using images of Zynga’s games without authorization, which use infringes its copyrights. The case is Zynga Game Network, Inc. v. Playerauctions.com, CV10-2576 CBM (C.D. Cal. 2010).

April 11, 2010

MGA Sues QVC and Brookstone For Copyright Infringement of its Land Sea RC® Toy

copyright-attorney-mga-entertainment-land-sea-rc-copyright-infringement-qvc.jpgLos Angeles, CA – A copyright infringement lawsuit was filed by MGA Entertainment against QVC, Brookstone, and Rooftop Group USA. MGA claims that it created the Land Sea RC® amphibious vehicle that kids can remotely control. MGA is the owner of two copyright registrations covering the toy designs. MGA alleges that Rooftop “arranged for the manufacture and sale of a product entitled RC Land-and-Sea Mobile” that are sold through retailers such as QVC and Brookstone.

In addition to the copyright infringement claims, MGA asserts unfair competition claims under both Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 and California common law. The state causes of action, however, seem to be preempted as they arise from the same operative facts as the copyright claim. Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 539 US 23 (2003); Fractional Villas, Inc. v. Tahoe Clubhouse, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 39522 (S.D. Cal. 2009)(dismissing § 17200 claim because it was preempted by the Copyright Act). The case is MGA Entertainment, Inc. v. Brookstone, Inc., et al., CV10-2463 GW (C.D. Cal. 2010).

March 21, 2010

Aram Saroyan Sues Over Copyright Ownership Of “Come On A My House” Song

Los Angeles, CA – William Saroyan, the Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize winning author and screenwriter, co-wrote “Come On-A My House” with his cousin Ross Bagdasarian, the creator of “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

Saroyan’s son and sole heir, Aram, alleges ownership of fifty percent of the copyright in the song by his 2006 termination – under 17 U.S.C. 304(c) – of an earlier transfer from his father to

Continue reading "Aram Saroyan Sues Over Copyright Ownership Of “Come On A My House” Song" »

March 17, 2010

Kirby Heirs Sue Marvel And Disney To Terminate Comic Book Copyrights In Iron Man, Spider Man, Hulk, etc.

copyright-attorney-x-men-wolverine-incredible-hulk-comics-kirby-marvel-disney.jpgCentral District of California – Comic book author Jack Kirby’s heirs are suing Marvel and Disney (complaint available here) to terminate the copyrights in the popular Spider Man, Iron Man, X-Men, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Thor, Nick Fury and Ant-Man comics, which Kirby authored or co-authored between 1958 and 1963. Plaintiffs allege that during this period, Kirby was not an employee of any of Marvel’s predecessors and the works were not a work-for-hire because he was a freelancer without any written agreements. In 1972, Marvel’s predecessor, Magazine Management Co., entered into a written agreement with Kirby whereby the copyrights in Kirby’s works were assigned for additional compensation.

Because the works were created before 1978, Plaintiffs assert that they can terminate the transfer Kirby's copyrights under 17 U.S.C. § 304(c). Thus, Plaintiffs provided Defendants with termination notices on September 16, 2009. The copyrights are scheduled to revert to the heirs beginning in 2014, which defendants expectedly refute. As a result, Plaintiffs request a declaration from the Court that the termination notices were proper and that the copyright interests will be recaptured. In addition, Plaintiffs ask the Court to determine the split of royalties from co-owned works moving forward. Further, Plaintiffs seek the return of Kirby’s original artwork that is currently in Defendants’ possession. Finally, Plaintiffs assert a Lanham Act cause of action for Defendants’ failure to accredit Kirby as the author or co-author of the underlying works on which X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Incredible Hulk movies were based. The case is Kirby v. Marvel Entertainment, Inc., SACV10-00289 CJC (C.D. Cal. 2010).

Marvel Entertainment has also sued Kirby's heirs in the Southern District of New York. Details here.