“Happy Birthday” Copyright Is Not Valid

According to a California Federal District Court Judge, Warner Bros. (“That’s all folks!”) and its Chappell Music business unit do not own a valid copyright to “Happy Birthday to You.” The ruling was the result of a class action lawsuit that, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, puts the world’s most recognizable tune into the public domain. No ruling on who owns “That’s all folks!”

Chubby Checker Sues for Trademark Infringement over Cufflinks

First of all, Chubby Checker is apparently still alive, and we have the court documents to prove it. Ernest Evans (Chubby’s real name) has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Wirkin Stiffs, the manufacturer of a line of Chubby Checker cufflinks, and against Macy's, Nordstrom, and other resellers of the allegedly infringing cufflinks.

Best known for his 60s hit, “The Twist,” Evans/Checker claims that endorsements and royalties on products that use the Chubby Checker trademark are an important part of his livelihood.

Batmobile Copyright Court Displays Sense of Humor

It is rare that an Appellate Court ruling shows any sense of humor, but it did in the case of one Mark Towle of Maryland who was accused of copyright infringement after driving around in a homemade roadster configured to look like the Batmobile. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Batmobile is indeed a copyrightable character owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The court’s ruling began with “Holy copyright law, Batman!”

CBS, Cumulus, and iHeartMedia Are Next!

If you’ve been reading our missives, you know we’ve been covering the ground-breaking lawsuit filed by Flo & Eddie, the owners of music of The Turtles, against Sirius XM, the satellite radio service.

Will This Bad Boy Attorney Appear in Court?

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered ZTE Corporation’s General Counsel, Guo Xiaoming, to appear in New York for a deposition – no excuses. This involves a long-running patent infringement claim by Vringo against ZTE.

It seems that Mr. Xiaoming did not appear in court for fear of being arrested. Unpaid parking tickets? Unpaid child support? Unpaid bar association dues? Nothing nearly so mundane. Mr Xiaoming fears being arrested in connection with a federal criminal investigation into ZTE’s alleged sale of banned technology to Iran. Now that’s what we call a Bad Boy!

Michael Jordan: The $10 Million Man?

We assume that most readers of our missives are old enough to remember the “Six Million Dollar Man,” a popular ABC-TV series from the 1970s starring Lee Major. According to the premise behind the storyline, an unnamed federal agency had spent $6 million creating a semi-human, semi-robotic super hunk.

Be Careful What You Display in Your Trade Show Booth

Conair – a leading manufacturer of hair driers, hair curlers and other hair-care products – has filed two patent infringement lawsuits after attending a trade show in Las Vegas. It appears that two competitors, INF Professional and Le Angelique, had hair curling products displayed in their booths that Conair claims infringe one or more of its patents.

Washington Redskins Lose First Round in Court

A U.S. District Court judge has upheld the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's decision to cancel the Washington Redskins' trademark registrations, rejecting the argument that the federal government's ban on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

However, the Redskins will be able to continue to use its trademark while it works its way through the appellate process, which will likely take several years. We wonder if the team is working on a more politically correct name.

Money Charged for ***.sucks Really Suck

NetNames, a European brand protection company, has filed a complaint with EU antitrust regulators that Vox Populi, the company behind the controversial new ***.sucks domain names, is charging predatory pricing in an effort to extort money from trademark owners.

Where do we begin? What business would want “.sucks” as the suffix to its website? Unless, of course, it sold lolipops? Or vacuum cleaners?

Clif Bar Files Trademark Infringment Claim against Kill Cliff

Snack company Clif Bar has filed a trademark infringement suit against competitor Kill Cliff, claiming that Kill Cliff launched a line of protein bars that are likely to cause confusion among consumers. When we think about “Cliff,” Cliff Notes comes to mind, but that is another story for another day.

Clif Bar claims that Kill Cliff's protein bars are trading on Clif's reputation. You be the judge.