Intellectual Property

On Wednesday, white and nerdy musical genius Weird Al released “Perform This Way,” to his Twitter followers for free download, after Lady Gaga supposedly refused to approve it for inclusion on his upcoming album. The song parodies Gaga’s “Born This Way” and, while certainly no “Another One Rides The Bus” or “Rye or the Kaiser,” appropriately mocks the Gaga marketing machine with such gems as “got my straight jacket today / it’s made of gold lamé / no I’m not crazy, I perform this way.” The whole thing is kind of a meta-parody because “Born This Way” is really a low rent rip-off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and “Vogue.”

Here’s the background story:

Lady Gaga denied Weird Al the right to release his parody of BORN THIS WAY, only the second time in his career that he’s been denied. [Ed. note: The other refusal came from Prince.] But he recorded the track at her request as a part of the approval process… the first time any artist has made that request. She summarily passed without comment. So instead of selling a couple hundred thousand or a million copies… he gave PERFORM THIS WAY away for free to his 2 million followers on Twitter.

Really, Lady Gaga wants to throw down with Weird Al?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fame Brief: Weird Al, Fair Use, and the Lady Gaga Saga”

* The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a lawsuit asking courts to force major companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sotomayor spent the entire oral argument asking attorneys how she could fit more Miami Sound Machine on her Zune. [New York Times]

* Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who can be seen every Thursday night on 30 Rock playing Kenneth the Page, shares none of Jan Brewer’s qualms about a “birther bill.” [Politico]

* The Ecuadorean Slapfight (also the name of my ska band in high school) between Patton Boggs, Gibson Dunn, and Chevron was squashed by a judge yesterday. [Reuters]

* Baker Hostetler is balling out of control on L’Affaire Madoff. [WSJ Law Blog]

Judge Vaughn Walker

* Tiger Blogger Vivia Chen wants white guys to be hunted like animals. [The Careerist]

* A copyright troll has found a way to exact a toll without actually owning any copyrights. No word yet on whether anyone has gained entrance into the boy’s hole. [Wired via ABA Journal]

* Alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning is being transferred to another prison. Julian Assange celebrated the news by going dancing. [Fox News]

* Sponsors of Proposition 8 are mad that retired judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over Prop 8′s defeat in court, is giving lectures around the country that feature a three-minute clip of the trial. They say the video should remain in the closet. Or a desk drawer of some sort. [Los Angeles Times]

You’re tired of him. I’m tired of him. Even Juggalo is tired of him.

I get it. Believe me, if Liam Neeson’s second cousin’s dogwalker so much as had gotten a parking ticket this week, I would have snapped that juicy news item up for Fame Brief. But alas, as your faithful celebrity news correspondent, I must deliver to you yet another Charlie Sheen post. Last one, I promise.*

In an inevitable move to cash-in on his enhanced celebrity, Charlie applied for trademarks on 22 of his now-passé catchphrases, including Adonis DNA, Tiger Blood, Rock Star from Mars and other mania-induced gems. Luckily still available: SmallLaw Total Bitchin’ Rock Star from Mars….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fame Brief: Charlie Sheen Bi-Winning™ Crap Merchandise Coming Soon?”

Chris Webby

As many of you figured out, the cease and desist letter from Chris Webby, claiming ownership of the hashtag #webby, was an April Fool’s hoax. This week’s sign that the apocalypse is upon was a hologram launched by the Webby Awards people. Here’s the official reveal.

Really, we thought a few more of our loyal readers would see through it. The firm that purportedly sent the letter, Baxter, Butler & Associates, doesn’t exist. This commenter got it. But I guess most commenters don’t fire up Google unless an attractive girl is involved.

You can see why the Webbys weren’t able to get a real law firm to participate in this prank. It might have been a joke today, but the first hashtag infringement suit is surely just around the corner.

Happy April Fool’s Day. I’m going to go back to drinking heavily now.

Earlier: Cease and Desist Letter of the Day: Who Owns Your Hashtag?

Chris Webby

If you enjoy the fact that a company called PeerViews apparently claims ownership of the term “Small Law,” you’re going to love this latest piece of IP ridiculousness.

Rapper Chris Webby has sent a cease and desist order to the Webby Awards. He wants them to stop using the hashtag, #webby.

I’m pretty sure that trademarking hashtags is one of the prerequisites for the Rapture.

And yes, of course Chris Webby made a video about his legal complaint…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cease and Desist Letter of the Day: Who Owns Your Hashtag?”

One morning last week, I walked past dozens of loyal Apple customers lined up to buy the new iPad 2. I scoffed as I walked by, my old, beat-up iPod nano playing in my ears. I also had the misfortune of walking past the same store later in the evening.

A sign in the doorway said something like, “Sorry, you’re too late. We’re sold out, na na na na.” Of course sample iPads were spread across the tables for gullible saps like me to play with, and I couldn’t resist. I really wanted to be able to legitimately say the gadget is silly and excessive, but — curse you, Steve Jobs — that thing is really cool.

It’s been, obviously, an exciting week for the company, but coincidentally (or not?) the Apple legal team has probably been working overtime too. Apple is no stranger to litigation, and we’ve covered Apple’s legal wrangling before.

Details about Apple’s hyperactive legal week — why Steve Jobs got deposed, who owns the phrase “App Store,” and a company that claims Apple stole intellectual property — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Apple News That Only Kind of Relates to the New iPad”

On Tuesday, Ropes & Gray was sued in Manhattan federal court by a former partner, Patricia A. Martone. Martone’s lawsuit claims age discrimination, sex discrimination, retaliation, and interference with protected retirement benefits in violation of ERISA (the basis for federal jurisdiction in the S.D.N.Y.).

As you might expect from an ex-Ropes partner, Martone has some high-powered counsel: Anne Vladeck, one of New York’s top labor and employment lawyers, widely regarded as the queen of employment discrimination law. Vladeck famously (and successfully) represented Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and the Knicks.

Patricia Martone is a veteran intellectual-property litigatrix, a specialist in patent litigation, with almost 40 years of practice under her belt. She made partner at Fish & Neave, the well-known patent law firm, in 1983, and then became a Ropes partner in 2005, when Ropes absorbed Fish. She’s now a partner at Morrison & Foerster, which she joined in October 2010.

Why did she leave Ropes? Let’s have a look at Patricia Martone, and her lawsuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ropes & Gray Sued for Age and Sex Discrimination By Former Partner”

Earlier this month, we presented you with a trademark law hypothetical. It was based on a dispute between Lawyerist and PeerViews Inc., parent company of TechnoLawyer, over the term “Small Law.” Lawyerist used the words “Small Law” in the title and text of this post — about Above the Law’s new offerings for small-firm readers, incidentally — and PeerViews objected.

In a letter by Kristen McCallion of Fish & Richardson, PeerViews expressed the concern that Lawyerist’s use of the words “Small Law” would diminish PeerViews’s goodwill in its “distinctive SmallLaw trademark.” PeerViews uses the mark for the TechnoLawyer newsletter on small firms.

We asked you, our readers, for your opinions on this matter. In the comments to our post, most of you sided with Lawyerist (but there were a handful of very vocal dissenters).

How will a judge or jury feel about this dispute? Because that’s who will get the next crack at this controversy. Lawyerist Media just filed a lawsuit against PeerViews in federal district court in Minnesota, seeking to invalidate the PeerViews trademarks on the terms “BigLaw” and “SmallLaw”….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: A Big Fight Over ‘Small Law’”

It’s not everyday you get porn, file sharing lawsuits, amateur motions to quash subpoenas, and a federal judge quoting Shakespeare’s King John, all wrapped up in a nice legal bundle of joy.

Here we go, from the beginning:

Chicago attorney John Steele, whose firm website is located at www.WeFightPiracy.com, represents CP Productions, the filmmakers behind — wait for it — Cowgirl Creampie. The movie was part of their website, www.chicasplace.com (obviously NSFW; I can’t believe I just looked that up in Starbucks).

On behalf of his client, Steele sued 300 people who allegedly downloaded and shared the movie via BitTorrent. No one actually knew, however, who these supposed downloaders were. The plaintiffs only had IP addresses — not names, phone numbers or mailing addresses.

Steele subpoenaed various Internet service providers to get the personal data. He spent months unsuccessfully trying to contact all of the defendants, who lived conveniently in a single Chicago apartment building all over the damn country….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Suing Hundreds of Anonymous People Will Not Make You Popular”

Under normal circumstances, Lady Gaga can do no wrong in my eyes. After all, she’s done a lot for me. When I was sad, she advised me to just dance, because it would be okay. When I was drunk, she reminded me that I can’t text with a drink in my hand. When I was in court, she made sure I didn’t let anyone read my poker face.

Today, however, Lady Gaga has let me down. Today, Lady Gaga is disobeying her own mantra, because instead of being a queen, she’s just being a drag. Today, my friends, Lady Gaga has threatened to sue a company that sells human breast milk ice cream.

Why does she want to sue, you ask?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lady Gaga, There’s No Use Crying Over Spilled Breast Milk
(Or: Another intellectual-property hypothetical.)

Page 27 of 411...232425262728293031...41