California Intellectual Property Law News - California Case Law
California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Intellectual Property Law Category

Yosemite Will Change Historic Names in Trademark Dispute

When news first came out about Yosemite "losing" its trademark rights to a greedy Madison Ave. company, people predictably started foaming at the mouth. But it turns out that it's a little more nuanced than that.

In the end, it could be a case of "big bad corporate America against Park Service" turned on its head. Welcome to IP meets National Parks.

Blue Moon Is 'Craft Beer' ... Even If the Label Is Just Marketing Puffery

Another trademark violation case has been decided, but this time, it appears to have been in the favor those who make craft beer ... whatever that means.

What does the term "craft beer" mean to you? Does it evoke images of crusty, bearded men over rusty antique vats and hand-stirred mash? If it does, and you go out to buy a case of Blue Moon, the joke's on you.

When it comes to protecting animal rights, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn't monkey around. Their message is simple: "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment." Oh, and they should have access to intellectual property rights, too. Yep, according to a PETA lawsuit in San Francisco, animals should have the ability to copyright works they create.

In particular, PETA is looking to have a macaque monkey who took a world-famous selfie declared copyright owner of the photos. You remember the photos -- the ones taken when an Indonesian monkey named Naruto grabbed nature photographer David Slater's unattended camera, smiled, and began posing for the camera. Slater threatened to sue Wikipedia when they published the photo and now PETA is suing Slater, arguing that Naruto should be declared the photo's author -- and that PETA should administer the profits from the photo on the monkey's behalf.

If you've gotten sick in the past 30 or so years, odds are that you've been prescribed Cipro, the antibiotic that is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world. From 1987 to 2003, Bayer was the sole producer of Cipro in the United States -- a position which helped it generate billions of dollars in gross sales until its patent expired in 2003.

Part of the reason Bayer was able to maintain such a lucrative position, according to an antitrust class action suit, was because the company paid a manufacturer $398 million to keep a generic version off the market until Bayer's patent expired. The Supreme Court of California reversed a dismissal of that class action on Thursday, reviving the "pay for delay" lawsuit.

Californians who resell art out-of-state will no longer have to pay a statutory royalty to the artist. Under the California Resale Royalty Act, a seller was required pay a five percent royalty to the artist if the seller is a California resident selling out-of-state or if the sale takes place in California. That out-of-state provision is an unconstitutional violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled on Tuesday.

Under the Act, if a San Franciscan auctions off a sculpture by a German artist in New York City, the artist is owed the royalty. Similarly, a royalty is required if a Brazilian businessman buys a photograph by a Chicago artist while passing through LA. Change "San Francisco" to "Paris" or "LA" to "Detroit" and no payment is needed in either scenario.

While the rest of the country is covered in snow, the sun is shining in the Golden State, and legal controversies and news are going at a non-stop pace. There's a lot to talk about, here are some highlights.

Justice Joyce Kennard Retiring

Justice Joyce Kennard, Associate Justice on the California Supreme Court announced that she will retire, effective April 5, 2014, giving Governor Jerry Brown a second chance to fill a seat on the California Supreme Court, reports The Sacramento Bee. The longest-serving justice, aged 72, is seen as "one of the more liberal" Justices, "often siding with the underdog," and "one of the court's most vocal members during oral arguments," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Rick Ross Wins Because His Entire Rap Career Is a Lie

Yes kids, there is no Santa Claus. And Rick Ross, despite his various boasts, is not actually "Rick Ross." Nor is he "Larry Hoover," "Big Meech," or any other real-life drug dealers whom he emulates in his quest to push more platinum albums.

Hate the player, not the game. Just don't sue the player for misappropriation of your identity, even if his entire career is based off of your real-life exploits.

Ladies and gentlemen: we introduce you to William Leonard Roberts II, a prison guard turned rapper. Knowing, of course, that police, corrections officers, and any other positions of authority would not translate well into an industry dominated by much-exaggerated feats of criminality, he adopted the moniker, persona, and beard of a man who could not easily object -- an imprisoned 80s drug kingpin who once sold millions of dollars worth of cocaine per day, the real Rick Ross.

Class Action Targets LinkedIn; Did Company Hijack Users' Email?

Anyone else greatly annoyed by the flood of LinkedIn email that arrives in their inboxes daily?

While most of us just ignore the messages, or feed them to our spam filters, four plaintiffs in California took things one step further and filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging not that they received too many messages, but that the company's email practices included sending too many messages on their behalf, and without their knowledge.

In short, they claim that the company hijacked their email accounts in order to harvest contact information and spam their contacts with LinkedIn invitations and endorsements.

_irate Joe's: Grocery Chain Sues 'Pirate' Who Resells Goods

Trader Joes has gone international, though not by choice, and they claim, not legally. The grocery chain's is suing their most valuable, yet most despised customer, Michael Hallatt, for trademark infringement, unfair competition, false endorsement and false designation of origin, after he purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the store's goods and sold them at his own location in Canada, the aptly-titled Pirate Joe's (now changed to _irate Joe's).

Hallatt claims that he's not making significant money off the arrangement, though it might be fair to question that assertion in light of the fact that he has gone as far as California to purchase his wares and has even dressed in drag to avoid detection. Trader Joe's products are good, but not that good.

Questionable bookkeeping or not, we're even more skeptical about TJ's federal claims.

Will Trademark Ruling Haunt Winchester Mystery House?

It's unusual to find a case that combines both haunted houses and a trademark lawsuit. Whether frightful or delightful, we stumbled across such a case today.

In 1862, Sarah "Belle of New Haven" Pardee married William Wirt Winchester, of the famous Winchester repeating rifle family. The couple was the toast of New England society. In 1866, their infant daughter died, and Sarah fell into a deep depression. After William died in 1881, Sarah supposedly spoke with a medium who claimed that the Winchester family was being haunted by the victims of Winchester rifles.