Wealth of Ideas Blog

Batmobile Copyright Court Displays Sense of Humor

It is rare that an Appellate Court ruling shows any sense of humor, but it did in the case of one Mark Towle of Maryland who was accused of copyright infringement after driving around in a homemade roadster configured to look like the Batmobile. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Batmobile is indeed a copyrightable character owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The court’s ruling began with “Holy copyright law, Batman!”

CBS, Cumulus, and iHeartMedia Are Next!

If you’ve been reading our missives, you know we’ve been covering the ground-breaking lawsuit filed by Flo & Eddie, the owners of music of The Turtles, against Sirius XM, the satellite radio service.

Having successfully won a major victory for his client against Sirius XM, Henry Gradstein, a partner with the Gradstein & Marzanno law firm in Los Angeles, has a new client. ABS Entertainment is the owner of the music of Al Green, Willie Mitchell, Ann Peebles and several other artists. Mr. Gradstein will represent his new client in lawsuits against CBS, Cumulus Media and iHeartMedia, radio station operators.

We have just one question: Who are Willie Mitchell and Ann Peebles?

Will This Bad Boy Attorney Appear in Court?

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered ZTE Corporation’s General Counsel, Guo Xiaoming, to appear in New York for a deposition – no excuses. This involves a long-running patent infringement claim by Vringo against ZTE.

It seems that Mr. Xiaoming did not appear in court for fear of being arrested. Unpaid parking tickets? Unpaid child support? Unpaid bar association dues? Nothing nearly so mundane. Mr Xiaoming fears being arrested in connection with a federal criminal investigation into ZTE’s alleged sale of banned technology to Iran. Now that’s what we call a Bad Boy!

Michael Jordan: The $10 Million Man?

We assume that most readers of our missives are old enough to remember the “Six Million Dollar Man,” a popular ABC-TV series from the 1970s starring Lee Major. According to the premise behind the storyline, an unnamed federal agency had spent $6 million creating a semi-human, semi-robotic super hunk.

Picking up on that theme, Michael Jordan claims that he is worth at least $10 million. Testifying in a publicity rights lawsuit, Jordan told jurors that he would never have given Dominick's Finer Foods, the defendant in the lawsuit, permission to use his likeness in a Sports Illustrated ad, the issue that is the crux of the lawsuit.

David Falk, Jordan’s long-time agent since he played for the Chicago Bulls, testified that Jordan has been worth $10 million since at least 1991, and the defendant cannot “just chip off pieces of his image in hopes of buying it for less.”

Be Careful What You Display in Your Trade Show Booth

Conair – a leading manufacturer of hair driers, hair curlers and other hair-care products – has filed two patent infringement lawsuits after attending a trade show in Las Vegas. It appears that two competitors, INF Professional and Le Angelique, had hair curling products displayed in their booths that Conair claims infringe one or more of its patents.

In the filing, Conair claims that is has “…experienced dramatic commercial success worldwide...” with its Babyliss and Curl Secret hair curling products, and that its “…success has attracted a number of knock-off efforts and attempts to free ride on Conair’s success.”

Conair is seeking temporary restraining orders against the defendants to block sales of the allegedly infringing products.

Washington Redskins Lose First Round in Court

A U.S. District Court judge has upheld the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's decision to cancel the Washington Redskins' trademark registrations, rejecting the argument that the federal government's ban on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

However, the Redskins will be able to continue to use its trademark while it works its way through the appellate process, which will likely take several years. We wonder if the team is working on a more politically correct name.

The Syracuse University mascot was the “Saltine Warrior” (fashioned after a brave from the Onondaga tribe) for over 100 years, but it was not PC so SU dumped the Warrier and the school’s sports teams are now unofficially the “Orange Men” but officially just “Orange” (the schools colors are orange and blue). How about the Washington Reds? Opps, that’s already taken.

Money Charged for ***.sucks Really Suck

NetNames, a European brand protection company, has filed a complaint with EU antitrust regulators that Vox Populi, the company behind the controversial new ***.sucks domain names, is charging predatory pricing in an effort to extort money from trademark owners.

Where do we begin? What business would want “.sucks” as the suffix to its website? Unless, of course, it sold lolipops? Or vacuum cleaners?

Clif Bar Files Trademark Infringment Claim against Kill Cliff

Snack company Clif Bar has filed a trademark infringement suit against competitor Kill Cliff, claiming that Kill Cliff launched a line of protein bars that are likely to cause confusion among consumers. When we think about “Cliff,” Cliff Notes comes to mind, but that is another story for another day.

Clif Bar claims that Kill Cliff's protein bars are trading on Clif's reputation. You be the judge.


Turtles Try to Block $210 Million Copyright Infringement Settlement

The Turtles (the 1960’s band) have asked the U.S. District court to block Sirius (the satellite radio broadcaster) from making a $210 million payment to ABKCO Music & Records, Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings and Warner Music Group to settle the ground-breaking copyright infringement lawsuit brought against them (and covered in our August 2014 Feature Article). Attorneys for the company that owns the rights to the Turtle’s music, Flo & Eddie Inc., asked the court to deposit funds into an interest-bearing account under the court's control and direction.

Cash Advance Company Seeks $45M Over Theft of Clients

SBC Telecom Consulting filed a complaint in New York State Supreme Court that a former employee, Carlos L. Liriano, willfully attempted to "ruin and destroy" SBC’s cash advance business, and SBC is seeking at least $45 million in damages. The lawsuit claims that Liriano, a former call center manager at SBC Telecom, stole proprietary corporate information and used that data to steer accounts to a competitor of SBC.

Our question is: Did SBC Telecom pay Mr. Liriano so well that he actually has $45 million?