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Timing is Everything

As the litigation drags on between Apple and Samsung and each side accuses the other of various acts of infringement, every once in a while an interesting bit of information comes to light. This month, Apple explained that it is entitled to $2.2 billion in damages because of...timing.

Beastie Boys Prevail in Copyright Dispute with GoldieBlox

Remember the toymakers who used a Beastie Boys song without permission and then filed suit against the band when they were asked to stop using the song? (see "GoldieBlox and the Three Beasties").

GoldieBlox had argued that their usage of the Beastie Boys' song "Girls" was fair use because it was a "parody" - actually, that they intended it to transform the song into "a powerful anthem for girls" (with an accompanying video that, conveniently, features little girls playing with GoldieBlox products).

Everything's Bigger in Texas

It recently came to light that Texas-based MPHJ Technology Investments has sent an astounding 16,465 letters to small businesses, requesting that they pay a license fee of $1,000 per worker or face a patent infringement lawsuit. And we know this, in part, because MPHJ has now filed suit against the Federal Trade Commission.

GoldieBlox and the Three Beasties

One of this holiday season's most anticipated gifts is an engineering toy set marketed to girls. The GoldieBlox building sets got a lot of attention from a promotional video that the company released on the Internet and that went viral.

And then the GoldieBlox folks got even more attention because they had used a Beastie Boys song in their video without getting permission from the two surviving members of the band.

Top Secret!

An inventor who approached the U.S. Army with an idea for a "mysterious acoustic wave propagation machine" has been barred by the Army from even talking about the invention, much less filing a patent application on it. And that inventor, Bruce Horton, has now filed a lawsuit against the Army in a California federal court - accusing the Army of having his patent application "illegally frozen and not reviewed nor allowed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office."

Should Have Stuck with Mason Jars

Trademark and trade dress disputes are nothing new in the world of alcoholic beverages. The latest alcohol-related trade dress dispute in the news is between the camps of Gentleman Jack and a legendary (but now deceased) Appalachian moonshiner named Popcorn Sutton.

Google Books: Fair Use or Copyright Infringement?

Judge Denny Chin of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has a decision to make: Is the Google Books Project transformative enough to be considered fair use, or is it just copyright infringement on a grand scale?

Computer Mouse Inventor Was Ahead of His Time - WAY Ahead

Sometimes it's possible to be a little too ahead of your time. Case in point: The patent on the first computer mouse expired in 1987 - shortly before the device became ubiquitous among computer users. Because it was patented before there was a need for it, the mouse's inventor inadvertently missed out on making a mint from his mouse. (The mouse only became commercially available in 1984, with the introduction of Apple's Macintosh PC.)

To Sue a Scoundrel

Reclusive author Harper Lee, who penned To Kill a Mockingbird - her only novel - back in 1960, is in the news for the first time in years. The reason: She is suing her literary agent for copyright infringement.

More specifically, the 87-year-old Lee is suing Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of her longtime agent Eugene Winick, for tricking her into signing over the copyright to her famous novel back in 2007.

A Murky Slate

Does a product have to exist in real life in order to infringe a trademark in real life? According to a U.S. District judge in Indiana, the answer is "Yes."

Warner Bros. Entertainment prevailed in a unique trademark infringement lawsuit in which a software company sued Warner Bros. over the use of a fictional software program featured in the blockbuster movie "The Dark Knight Rises."