Copyright Cases: Mavrix Photographs, LLC v. LiveJournal, Inc.

Mavrix Photographs, LLC v. LiveJournal, Inc.  LiveJournal is a social media platform that displays photographs posted by users.  Maverix Photographs sued for copyright infringement of some of its photographs.  LiveJournal raised the defense that it was protected by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  The district court agreed and dismissed the case on a summary judgment motion by LiveJournal. Appeal The appeals court (1) reversed the district court’s decision, instead finding that the safe harbor would apply if the photographs were posted at the direction of users. However, LiveJournal posted the photographs after a team of volunteer moderators, led by an employee,  reviewed and approved them. The court held that whether the photographs were posted at the direction of users depended on whether the acts of the moderators could be attributed to LiveJournal. Disagreeing with the district court, the panel held that the common law of agency applied to the LiveJournal's DMCA safe harbor defense. Because there were genuine...
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Contract Consideration – FAQ

What does it mean for a contract to be not enforceable because of a lack of consideration? Answer: In order for a contract to be enforceable, the mutual promises of the parties must be supported by "consideration." Considerations means each party gives something of value to the other.  The reason that the courts and legislatures generally require some form of consideration is to insure that the promises being made are not merely a casual statement, and accident, or gratuitous – in short – to make sure the people making the agreement really mean it. Consideration looks at whether the parties have assumed an obligation on the condition of an act or forbearance of another. Except in cases of employment matters, Minnesota courts generally do not look at the adequacy of the consideration being offered – only whether some consideration has been exchanged. For written agreements, the court presumes valid consideration. While adequacy of consideration is not usually analyzed, vague or indefinite terms...
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Benefits of a Federal Trademark Registration – FAQ

What are the benefits of a federal trademark registration? Answer: There are many benefits of a federal trademark registration, both direct and indirect.  Direct benefits are numerous and include: National protection of the mark; Ability to obtain injunctions stopping infringers; Ability to use the registration to apply for foreign trademark registrations; Greater access to the  federal court system; Assistance from the United States Custom in stopping counterfeit and infringing goods from importation; and Attorneys fees when proper notice has been attached to the goods or services. I In addition to these considerations, trademark registration provides indirect benefits in the form of being able to point to it when protecting marks used for social media accounts, protect against improper use in search engines, ability to obtain new domains in sunrise periods, and providing great leverage in UDRP and URS disputes against cyber-squatters. Why Provide these Benefits Providing these benefits serve two primary functions.  By granting these rights to trademark owners the government helps to incentivise business owners by...
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Trademark Registration Scam – FAQ

I filed a trademark application recently and suddenly I have been receiving papers from all these companies saying that I owe more money to finalize my trademark. Is this some kind of trademark registration scam? Answer: In December (2016) the Department of Justice announced that two men had pled guilty of a scamming owners of US trademark applicants. Through there company called the Trademark Compliance Center (TCC) and Trademark Compliance Office (TCO), the men, Artashes Darbinyan and Orbel Hakobyan, stole approximately $1.66 million from registrants and applicants of U.S. trademarks through a trademark registration scam by sending fraudulent solicitation for additional filing fees. The USPTO worked with California law enforcement in this case and takes a number of steps to fight solicitations from companies fraudulently promising to protect trademarks. These questionable solicitations have been growing problem, both nationally and globally over the years. To help combat this, the USPTO has taken a number of steps. 1) Each Office Action regarding an application includes...
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Common Law Trademarks – FAQ

Am I protected with a common law trademark - without federal registration? Q: I recently started professionally my photographs in the US.  I registered the copyright for photos and have decided on new name for my company.   I think the name is pretty distinctive and I am not aware of anyone else selling a similar product by the same name.   Do I have to register my company name as a trademark to prevent others from using it or can I rely on the laws concerning common law trademarks? A: Kenneth’s answer:  Since your mark is not registered you are limited to the common law trademark rights. Common Law Trademarks are generally limited in scope to the geographic area where the mark is known (think of a restaurant where everyone has heard of it in one town, but is unknown in another). Common law trademarks can be enforced (but not as well and as easily as registered marks) in both state and federal courts. In...
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10 Trademarks Just in Time for Halloween

10 Trademarks Just in Time for Halloween

While some folks might think trademarks can be a little scary, I know that they can also be a little fun. G&S: Processed cereal-based food to be used as a breakfast food, snack food or ingredient for making other foods.Serial (no pun intended) 85120586 and 85120583 G & S: Beer.Serial: 86110135Yes - a stumbling disheveled guy is your image for beer - why didn't this get rejected as merely descriptive? G & S: Books in the field of children's literature.Serial: 86271191Whenever I put my child to bed, I always like to talk about monsters too - keeps her quiet when I tell her how she will get eaten-up if she asks for a glass of water. G & S: Parlour games.Serial: 86222077What the heck is a Haint you ask?  Well I had to look it up too - God bless American entrepreneurship.http://www.haintinabox.com/ G&S: Magazines featuring women modeling in horror-themed pictorials for entertainment purposes.Serial: 86506372And Playboy decided to get out of the nudie business - perhaps...
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Trump’s Trademark Issues

How long has Trump been planning this? Apparently Mr. Trump decided he liked the sound of "Make America Great Again" as  far back as 2012, when he first filed an application for the phrase with the Trademark Office (Serial 85783371).   However, in the application he seems to be  anticipating using it for a Political Action Committee, rather than for his own candidacy. The required list of services he listed were as follows: Political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues. (IC 035) Fundraising in the field of politics. (CIC 036) However he was apparently not ready to use it back then, as he did not finalize the registration until earlier this year - about a month before he formally announced. Trademark Issue #1 Subsequently, on August 13th two new filings  (86724115 , 86724213) were made by him for the phrase and include an exhaustive list of such items as   Bumper stickers; decorative decals for vehicle windows; stickers; advertising signs of papers; advertising signs of cardboard; placards and banners...
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Ten Cute Cat Trademarks

Ten Cute Cat Trademarks

Because cats make everything more entertaining.  (search using (03.01.04)[DD]  and  (2)[MD]).  A sample of 10 recent applications for cat related trademarks for your viewing pleasure. 1.  Content Kitty (such a peaceful face)   2.  Lethal Kitty (HiYA!!)   3.  Hello Kitty (one of many recently filed applications)   4. Butt Kitty (Ok -  this one creeps me out a little)   5. Knitted Kitty (this one is for "knitted underwear" -'nuff said -cool design)   6. Hipster Kitty (jeez - everyone knows cats prefer the chevron)   7. Creepy Kitty (with dog overlord)   8. Masked Kitty (what possible advantage would a cat have trying to pretend he's a dog?)   9. Anthropomorphic Kitty (why no shoes on the hands??)   10.  Plain old Cute Kitty (just because)   ...
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Color-only Trademarks

What do UPS, Tiffany and Co., and Owens Corning have in common?  The mere sight of the color of their product (Pullman Brown, Robin's Egg Blue, and Pink) brings to mind who they are without ever having to place a logo or word on their products.   These marks demonstrate how real people shop for goods and services and how trademarks are about providing a potential consumer resources to identify the source of the goods and services they are purchasing - while preventing others from using those identifiers to create consumer confusion. Color Trademarks The leading case involving color as a trademark is  Qualitex Co. V. Jacobson Prods. Co. (514 U.S. 159, 161, 163, 115 S. Ct. 1300, 131 L.Ed. 2d 248 (1995)), which noted that a color can sometimes serve as a trademark by itself  “when that color has attained ‘secondary meaning’ and therefore identifies and distinguishes a particular brand (and thus indicates its ‘source’).”   The Court went on to provide that...
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