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Supreme Court Clarifies Availability of Copyright for Applied Art on Apparel

On March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al, No 15-866, clarifying that the Copyright Act protects applied artistic elements appearing on utilitarian objects, including apparel.

The Real Deal: Anthony Lupo and Michelle Marsh Discuss Clothing and Copyright

Exclusivity and uniqueness are the cornerstones of the fashion industry. From Louboutin’s iconic red-soled pump to Burberry’s famed trench, brands pride themselves on creating exceptional albeit timeless pieces. So what prevents a rival company from simply replicating success? Which begs the age old (and hotly debated) question – can clothing be copyrighted? The answer is anything but black and white.  

“World of Warcraft” Creator Takes Battle to Court over Game’s Characters

What’s the News? A federal judge in the Northern District of California recently dismissed a complaint in which video game producers claimed that characters from their games had been misappropriated by competing developers, in violation of copyright law. While characters are, in some cases, entitled to copyright protection, the court held that plaintiffs in such cases must state with considerable specificity which characters were allegedly infringed, and why those characters are copyrightable.

When the Music Stops: NY Court of Appeals Limits Meaning of ‘Affiliate’

The New York Court of Appeals recently held in Ellington v. EMI Music, Inc. that the term “affiliates” in a copyright renewal agreement referred only to affiliates existing at the time of contract execution, reasoning that the contract did not expressly provide that the parties intended to bind future affiliates.

Ninth Circuit Rejects Luxury Watch Manufacturer’s Copyright Infringement Claim Under Expanded ‘First Sale’ Doctrine

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit ruled for discount retailer Costco in a copyright dispute involving the importation and sale of “gray market” Omega watches. In Omega S.A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., Case Nos. 11–57137, 12–56342 (9th Cir. Jan. 20, 2015), the Ninth Circuit held that Costco’s sale of Omega watches was permissible under the first sale doctrine, which protects the resale of a lawfully produced copyrighted work.

Arent Fox Secures Judgments Protecting Fila Against Cybersquatting Websites

Washington, DC — In January, Arent Fox LLP secured a summary judgment on behalf of the sportswear manufacturer Fila against a website that was cybersquatting and appeared to carry the company’s internationally recognized label. This is the second domain name Arent Fox obtained in recent months for Fila after successfully arguing that the website registrant’s actions violated the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

Dictating the Use of a Celebrity’s Likeness: Former Panamanian Strongman Manuel Noriega Ousted from Court

  Video game developer Activision Blizzard, Inc. recently won a key victory in the ongoing battle over the right of publicity when a California state court judge dismissed former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega’s well-publicized lawsuit. Noriega had alleged that his image and likeness were improperly used in the blockbuster video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.” Determining that the First Amendment protected Blizzard, the court dismissed Noriega’s complaint with prejudice.

Barnes & Noble Schools Former FIT Student in IP Suit, as Federal Court Finds Backpack Design Not Copyrightable

A former student of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) recently suffered a decisive blow in her lawsuit against her alma mater and Barnes & Noble, Inc. (Barnes & Noble), which is based on the latter’s use of the student’s copyrighted drawing in connection with the production of a line of backpacks.

LVMH and eBay Team Up to Take On Counterfeiters

The French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A. (LVMH) recently settled its long-running court battle with eBay, Inc. over the online auction website’s alleged distribution of counterfeit luxury goods. Although financial terms were not disclosed, the two companies announced that they would collaborate in implementing measures aimed at protecting intellectual property rights and preventing the sale of counterfeit goods online. “Thanks to our joint efforts, consumers will enjoy a safer digital environment globally,” the companies said in a joint statement.

Arent Fox Files Lawsuit Protecting Diesel Against Cybersquatting Websites Selling Counterfeit Goods

Press Release Washington, DC – On June 24, Arent Fox LLP filed suit on behalf of Italian clothing company Diesel S.p.A. against 83 websites that are cybersquatting and selling counterfeit products appearing to carry the internationally recognized label. By using the company’s trademark in the domain name, the websites are creating the false impression they are authorized to sell genuine Diesel goods. Already, the sites have sold thousands of counterfeit reproductions of Diesel’s high quality products.