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copyright-attorney-music-defenses-karaoke-korean.jpgThe U.S. music sub-publisher of Korean music publishers has filed copyright infringement lawsuits against several karaoke bars in Los Angeles and Korea town. I’m not sure how popular the 80’s glam-metal-hair-band Ratt is in Korean karaoke bars, but it is also suing for infringement of its “Round and Round” song. The complaints allege that Defendants charge customers money for access to the karaoke machines, the primary feature of the bars for which customers pay Defendants, and illegally publicly perform the copyrighted musical compositions embodied in the karaoke recordings.

Ratt’s single composition pales in comparison to Elohim’s assertion that 3,341 musical compositions have been infringed by the karaoke bars, but as explained below Ratt is afforded more remedies under the Copyright Act. Both plaintiffs allege that the bars have not been granted public performance licenses for the compositions under 17 U.S.C. § 106(4) of the Copyright Act.

Each of the Elohim Compositions constitutes copyrightable material and is protected under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (the “Berne Convention”). The Berne Convention affords the Elohim Compositions, which were published in Korea and are owned by Korean citizens, automatic copyright protection in the United States; in this regard, there is no requirement that the Elohim Compositions be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to the initiation of this lawsuit.

copyright-trademark-infringement-batmobile-replica-car-kit-dc-comics-towle.jpgLos Angeles, CA – DC Comics is the owner of the Batman franchise and has numerous copyright registrations for works ranging from comic books, action figures, toy Batmobiles, to movies and TV shows. It also owns numerous USPTO registered trademarks including the word marks Batmobile, Gotham City, and Batman; in addition to numerous design marks, including the Bat Emblem. Since Batman’s first introduction in a 1939 issue of “Detective Comics”, he was instantly popular and has become of one of DC Comics’ “most successful and world-famous comic book super heroes.”

Indeed, the Batman movie franchise has resulted in “domestic gross box office receipts in over a billion dollars, not to mention additional revenues from syndication rights and home video distribution.” Further, the “Batman motion pictures have proven to be among the most successful licensing and merchandising ventures of all time, with gross retail sales of associated licensed merchandise exceeding $1,000,000,000.” That sure is a large number of zeros, Batman!

With that much cash, Brue Wayne obviously needs to have the most advanced Batmobiles to cruise in. There have been several design iterations of the Batmobile vehicles over the years and DC Comics contends that they are all distinctive and original designs that are copyrightable subject matter. DC Comics also contends that all the designs and trademarks are either inherently distinctive or have acquired secondary meaning in the minds of consumers throughout the U.S. and the world. DC Comics’ copyrights and trademarks are the subject of numerous licensing agreements for use on Batman merchandise.

traffic-camera-california-ruling-evidence-inadmissible.jpgOrange, CA – This post is off topic, but these traffic cameras are popping up everywhere and some research shows that they cause more accidents than they prevent. The Appellate Division in the County of Orange recently ruled that the red light photo evidence was inadmissible because it lacked foundation, was hearsay, and violated the Defendant’s confrontation rights. The Court held that the only person to testify, i.e. the officer, could not establish the time in question, the method of retrieval of the photographs, or the technology used.

We hold that the trial court erred in admitting the photographs and the accompanying declaration over the appellant’s hearsay and confrontation clause objections. Absent the photographs and content in the declaration, there is insufficient evidence to support the violation. Accordingly we reverse the judgment.

A copy of the ruling is here.

UPDATE 2/2/2010: Major League Baseball sues Upper Deck for trademark infringement and quotes from Yu-Gi-Oh! counterfeiting case. Click here for details.

trademark-attorney-yu-gi-oh-counterfeit-upper-deck.pngLos Angeles, CA – Instead of settling the case after it was caught selling counterfeit Yu Gi Oh! cards, Upper Deck fought a losing battle and the Court’s summary judgment ruling found that Upper Deck counterfeited Yu Gi Oh! cards (details here). After the parties’ opening statements were delivered to the jury yesterday, Upper Deck and Konami settled the case, wherein Upper Deck will pay an undisclosed sum to Konami and will enter into a permanent injunction — which appears to be an adoption of the Court’s previously issued preliminary injunction (details here). The Court’s order regarding the settlement is available here.

The case is Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. v. Vintage Sports Cards, Inc. et al., CV08-06630 VBF (C.D. Cal. 2008)

Los Angeles, CA – T-Mobile’s trademark attorneys filed a trademark infringement, Lanham Act unfair competition, and breach of contract lawsuit in Federal District Court in Los Angeles. T-Mobile accuses the defendants of acquiring large quantities of T-Mobile prepaid phones from retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Target, not intending to activate the phones for use on the T-Mobile wireless network. Instead, the complaint continues, the cellular phones are computer-hacked in order to unlock the phones and disable the installed software and then the phones are shipped overseas and sold as new T-Mobile phones which are operable on other cellular telephone networks. Also, T-Mobile alleges that the defendants – in order to overcome the limits imposed by retailers on the number of telephones which may be purchased by one customer – employ “runners” to make multiple purchases of the telephones at different locations.

t-mobile-logo.jpg“Defendants’ conduct, together with that of currently unknown civil and criminal co-conspirators, is causing T-Mobile to suffer millions of dollars in losses and has caused immediate and irreparable injury to T-Mobile and T-Mobile’s trademarks,” the complaint states. T-Mobile subsidizes the price of the cellular telephone and sells it below cost, but recoups the subsidy from profits earned on the sale of the prepaid airtime cards. Thus, the complaint asserts, if the phones purchased by defendants are not activated on the T-Mobile wireless network, T-Mobile is unable to recoup its costs. The T-Mobile phones are also sold subject to terms and conditions which restrict and limit the sale and use of the phones. By unlocking the phones and not activating them on the T-Mobile network, the defendants are allegedly breaching the contractual terms of purchase. The case is titled T-Mobile USA, Inc. v. All Pro Distributing, Inc., et al., CV08-02691 GW (C.D. Cal. 2008).