Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blogger ate my homework

Haven't posted in a while, but tried to last week. Unfortunately, as I clicked "Publish Post," Blogger croaked. All was lost. This "Retrieve Post" stuff? Didn't work. So herewith, below, are overly simplistic and only marginally humorous synopses of some recent decisions for the attention-span impaired. As you will see, it wasn't a good month for owners of what they thought were trademark rights or copyrights:

  • OK, what about a last name registered as a trademark under German law? Out of luck in Murica, says the Federal Circuit in In re Rath, No. 04-1419, -1420 (March 24, 2005).

  • I don't own the copyright, but I have an assignment of all causes of action from the copyright owner, so I can sue, right? Wrong, according to the en banc 9th Circuit in Silvers v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., No. 01-56069 (March 25, 2005).

  • I've got a jury finding of intentional trademark infringement. Pretty exceptional, huh? I get fees, don't I? Well, don't I?? Nope. Intentional doesn't mean the same thing as willful, says a panel of the 9th Circuit, apparently deciding the case without their Roget's Thesaurus. Watec Co. v. Liu, No. 03-55823, -56079 (March 30, 2005).

  • Hey! There's a guy using my trademark for the domain name of a web site where he says rotten things about me. Doesn't trademark law prohibit that? Not if he's just griping. That's not "use in connection with the sale of goods," as required under the Lanham Act, but you might have a beef under the Anticybersquatting Act. Bosley Medical Inst., Inc. v. Kremer, No. 04-55962 (9th Cir. April 4, 2005).

  • Finally, the 8th Circuit held that (a) a bankruptcy court order approving the sale of assets, including "all intellectual property," was a valid transfer of ownership in copyrights, (b) an appellate court should review a district court's finding of "substantial similarity" under the clearly erroneous standard, not de novo (a bad sign for the appellant in the case), and (c) no jury trial for plaintiffs who drop their damage claims prior to trial. Taylor Corp. v. Four Seasons Greetings, LLC, No. 04-1088 (April 11, 2005). (Hard to do anything flip with that decision -- sorry.)