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Generic Fair Use law blog

I have created a separate blog to document all my various writings, musings and whimsical opinions on movies, music, sports, gambling and how these interests generate legal issues and potential disputes.  You can find all of my future writings at www.genericfairuse.com.  The blog where pop culture meets intellectual property law.

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News Archive

Generic Fair Use law blog

I have created a separate blog to document all my various writings, musings and whimsical opinions on movies, music, sports, gambling and how these interests generate legal issues and potential disputes.  You can find all of my future writings at www.genericfairuse.com.  The blog where pop culture meets intellectual property law.

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Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks Made Simple

Did you know that the Framers of the United States Constitution solidified the rights to copyrights and patents more than two years before the protection of freedom of speech? It is true. Here I provide a basic primer on what patents, copyrights and trademarks are and when each of these intellectual property rights exists and what rights are included with it.

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Is your Halloween costume an infringement?

Halloween is on a Saturday this year.  I am anxious to see people of all ages walking around in full costume.  What a wonderful time of year.  Halloween is fun – and it brings out the creative side in almost everyone.  People will be dressed as superheroes, villains, cartoon characters, pop culture icons, scary monsters, and more.  But most of these costumes you will see represent characters that were created by someone else... Is your Halloween costume infringing someone else’s intellectual property rights?

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My YouTube cover song is legal, right?  (Well, maybe)

In August, Ryan Adams[1] announced his intentions to release song-by-song and nearly note-for-note cover of Taylor Swift’s “1989” album.[2]  He covered every single song and all of the same lyrics, just stripped down and re-recorded as a more guitar-based interpretation.[3]  It is a rather audacious project for an artist that is more of an indie musician than a pop star.  After the release of his covers album, many people asked me that all-too-common question: How is that legal?  How is that not copyright infringement?

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The NFL Will Complain About Your Vines (and GIFs)

The craziest sports story of October 12, 2015 might have been something that happened over social media.  In the mid-afternoon, the Twitter accounts for Deadspin (@Deadspin) and SB Nation’s GIF-based sub account (@SBNationGIF) were suddenly suspended.  The initial reasons were murky, with media reports later suggesting that the National Football League used its influence with Twitter to suspend the accounts.  And why?  Because the Deadspin account and the SBNationGIF account both routinely posted or re-tweeted Vines and GIFs of highlight plays from NFL games. Which are copyrighted works.

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Express Yourself! A Primer on Types of U.S. Trademarks

Trademarks are everywhere.  Everything from a well-known slogan by a shoe company, to a famous organizational logo, to the signature color scheme or uniform of a performer can be considered as a trademark.  Trademarks can take many different shapes and forms, each of which may be protected by U.S. law.  The key is what can (or should be) protected and what may be enforced as the intellectual property rights of an individual or entity.  U.S. trademark law allows for a multitude of ways to express yourself or identify your product to the consuming public.  In fact, the law encourages this! The following is a primer on the types and forms of U.S. trademarks.

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How are DraftKings and FanDuel even legal in the United States?

If you regularly watch sports or have stumbled across ESPN in the last few months, you are certain to have seen the relentless advertising campaigns by the companies DraftKings and FanDuel. How is this legal in the United States?

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Laches (Copyright) is Dead.  Long Live Laches (Patent)!

In 2014, the United States Supreme Court effectively killed a long-standing affirmative defense to copyright infringement, the defense of “laches.”  See Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 134 S. Ct. 1962 (U.S. 2014). 

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What if intellectual property rights were enforced in the world of The Princess Bride?

What if the cowardly Prince Humperdinck recognized and enforced patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret concepts as seen in The Princess Bride?  Inconceivable, you say?  But what would that look like and what would be some examples?

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How was “Happy Birthday” still protected by a copyright?

By now it is likely you have seen the news story. On Tuesday, September 22, 2015, Judge George H. King, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, ruled that Warner/Chappell, the publishing arm of Warner Music, did not have the right to enforce its claims in the copyright for the ubiquitous lyrics to the song“Happy Birthday.” The legal implications are that the song lyrics may be in the public domain and free to use by all.

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Not Even Rick Ross is Allowed to Copyright a Phrase

In January 2014, Rick Ross sued LMFAO for copyright infringement over their use of lyrics from their song “Party Rock Anthem.” In particular, Ross claims that LMFAO are infringing on his copyright in the phrase “Everyday I’m hustlin’”

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Top Three Differences Between “Copyrights” and “Trademarks”

The term “intellectual property” is commonly used to describe creative works such as inventions, music, movies, art, technical know-how and other intangible products. Unfortunately, the various types of intellectual property can often be confusing or difficult to categorize.

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Clearing Up a Public Misconception of the “Washington Redskins™” Fight

The federally-registered trademark for the “Washington Redskins” has been under attack since 1992.
On June 18, 2014, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
voted to cancel six marks held by the organization on grounds that “Redskins” was disparaging.

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