Intellectual Property Law Decisions: Decided
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'Back to the Future' Car Lawsuit Settled

The DeLorean estate settled a lawsuit over use of its name just in time for Back to the Future Day, or October 21, 2015. The DeLorean car was made famous by Michael J. Fox playing Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies.

The car creator's widow sued the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) -- not legally associated with the original vehicle -- for illegally using the DeLorean name to sell hats, pens, notebooks, key chains and other items of far less value than the famous winged car. The lawsuit also claimed that DMC illegally licensed the name and images to other companies including Nike, Urban Outfitters, and Apple.

For the past decade, Google has been scanning collections of books. And for the past decade, Google has faced legal opposition to its book-scanning project. But that opposition might finally be over.

A U.S. Appeals Court ruled that Google's book-scanning project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law. The case tested "the boundaries of fair use," and for now Google will be free to continue pushing those boundaries.

Sony Loses Santa Claus Song Rights, Better Not Cry

Sony better watch out and better not pout. I'm telling you why. Santa Claus may keep coming to town, figuratively speaking. But the company won't make money from people singing about it starting in 2016.

Last week, a Second US Circuit Court of Appeals panel of judges ruled that the rights to the song "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" will revert back to the owner's heirs under copyright law. The song was written in 1934 by John Frederick Coots.

Copyright Case Puts Freeze on Bikram Hot Yoga

Hot yoga guru Bikram Choudhury has to chill now, legally speaking. He is not entitled to copyright protection for his 26-position exercise sequence done in hundred-degree heat.

Bikram, a name now associated with hot yoga, has been fighting this legal battle since 2011. Two former students opened a studio in New York teaching the poses they learned from the master in 2009. The guru filed suit two years later, claiming he owned "graceful flow" yoga. He was wrong.

The Batmobile is one of the most recognizable cars in the world. The fins, the gadgets, the weaponry: all singular to the Caped Crusader, and all very inviting to copycats.

But those looking to steal the Batmobile's signature look better beware. The 9th Circuit has ruled that Batman's costar car is sufficiently distinctive to warrant copyright protections.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder claims, "I will never change the name." Well, he may want to consider doing it now.

A federal judge ruled against the team today when he ordered that the Redskins' trademark registrations be canceled.

Nike Settles With Ralph Lauren Over Chuck Taylor Knock-Offs

Back in October, Nike, which owns Converse, sued 31 companies for manufacturing knock-off versions of those famous "Chuck Taylor" Converse All-Star shoes. You're seen them before: the canvas high-tops with the big star on the ankle.

You've also probably seen the knock-offs, which come dangerously close to looking just like Converse's Chuck Taylors. Well, yesterday, at least one company -- Ralph Lauren -- settled its dispute with Nike. Just 30 more to go!

Snapchat OKs Settlement With Ousted Co-Founder

In a statement suspiciously timed to coincide with the media coverage of Apple's new product launch, Snapchat quietly announced Tuesday that it's settled a lawsuit filed against the company by one of its founders.

Although the terms of the settlement weren't disclosed, Snapchat was recently valued at $10 billion following a round of venture capital fundraising, reports Forbes, making it likely that the settlement of the lawsuit by ousted co-founder Reggie Brown didn't come cheap.

What was Brown's beef with his former Stanford frat brothers and company co-founders Even Spiegel and Bobby Murphy?

The U.S. Supreme Court released two impactful opinions on Wednesday, potentially changing how the nation treats streaming broadcast TV and warrantless cell-phone searches by police.

In American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, the High Court determined that an online streaming service which allowed users to watch over-the-air broadcast TV on their computers and mobile devices violated copyright law. Meantime, mobile users have been given a bit more protection under Riley v. California, holding that police may not generally search a cell phone after arrest without a warrant.

Let's break down both Supreme Court cases.

Patent Office Nixes Redskins Trademarks: 5 Key Questions Tackled

The United States Patent and Trademark Office made big news today when it issued an order canceling six trademarks held by the Washington Redskins.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruling is just latest twist in the ongoing, multi-decade push by Native American groups and their allies to get the team to change a name that they consider offensive.

So what does this ruling really mean for the Redskins? Let's tackle five key questions about today's Patent Office decision: