Intellectual Property Law Decisions: Decided

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Star Trek fans are likely reacting in some way to the news that the Axanar fan film has settled the lawsuit against it filed by CBS and Paramount. Shockingly, the settlement will allow the fan fic film to be made, but just not as a feature length film as originally intended. Also, the settlement includes numerous other demands the fan film must comply with to proceed with the film and all future projects.

The settlement allows Axanar to make their movie, but it must be no more than two 15 minute pieces, and follow all the other fan film guidelines, including not using the name Star Trek. Also, the film cannot have advertising or really attempt to generate revenue in anyway per the guidelines CBS and Paramount released for fan films to not be objectionable.

The newest Star Trek film, which is making headlines due to an active lawsuit headed for trial in a few short weeks, has an inauspicious back story. First-off, it should be noted that the most recent Star Trek film is not official, nor is it licensed by the original creators. The film was created by a fan who assembled a professional production company and crowd-sourced nearly a million dollars.

Let's just say, this isn't your run of the mill fan fiction. The 20 minute teaser to the film, Prelude to Axanar, has nearly 3 million views on YouTube, and clearly has a level of production quality beyond what is generally expected from a fan fiction produced work. In fact, the whole production, with movie website and all, seems a little to professional to be categorized as a work of fan fiction at all, but it is exactly that.

The real makers of the popular energy supplement 5-Hour Energy, Living Essential, were pleased this week when a California jury found two individuals guilty of manufacturing counterfeit 5-Hour Energy drinks. The federal charges allege that the criminal drink makers produced millions of counterfeit bottles using unknown ingredients in an unsanitary facility. The couple could face over a decade in jail and $2 million in fines. Their conviction comes after the resolution of the consolidated civil suit earlier this year against more than 20 individuals, all involved in a conspiracy to make and sell fake 5-Hour Energy shots.

The convicted Southern California couple initially had a legitimate deal with Living Essential to distribute 5-Hour Energy drinks in Mexico. However, the initial deal provided the couple with Spanish labeled bottles which they relabeled and then sold in the US below the US market rate. The following year, the couple set up the manufacturing scheme to make the counterfeit drinks.

Urban Outfitters, the popular clothing store, has finally settled the lawsuit brought against it by the Navajo Nation over the Navajo product line the retailer introduced over five years ago. While the details of the settlement are confidential, the Navajo Nation announced that there will be a future partnership with the retailer to sell real Navajo jewelry.

The lawsuit all started back in 2012 over Navajo panties, and other Navajo branded items, that Urban Outfitters started offering for sale in their stores. When Native American customers started seeing the products, they became offended. One Native American woman demanded the retailer pull the items from their shelves as she believed the items were offensive to Native Americans and disrespectful to the culture, history, and heritage. When the retailer did not pull the items, the Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit.

After a decade of fighting it out in court, Warner Bros. won the latest appeal confirming that the merchandising of various works, including Gone with the Wind, Tom & Jerry, and the Wizard of Oz, by a company that made figurines, snow globes and t-shirts, violated copyright and trademark law. The case, initially filed in 2006, was appealed twice, after each time the District Court ruled in favor of Warner Bros.

At issue in the most recent appeal was whether the District Court's monetary awards, dispositive ruling and granting of a permanent injunction were proper. The Appeals Court upheld the entire ruling of the lower court in favor of Warner Bros.

In the slide-to-unlock legal saga that started years ago between tech leaders Samsung and Apple, the Federal Appeals Court reversed the prior appellate decision, reinstating the $120 million verdict against Samsung. The two tech giants are gearing up for an even bigger battle this week before the Supreme Court on an unrelated patent infringement case dating back to 2011.

The slide-to-unlock case, originally decided in May 2014, had a federal jury award Apple $119.6 million for Samsung's infringement of their the slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, and quick-link feature patents. After the verdict, Samsung appealed, and the Appeals Court overturned the jury's verdict, however this year, the same Appeals Court reversed the prior ruling, reinstating the jury's verdict.

Judge Awards 5-hour Energy $20M in Damages

The manufacturer of 5-hour Energy, Innovation Ventures, just got a rush. A New York federal judge partially granted the company's motion for summary judgment and awarded it $20 million in statutory damages.

The three defendant companies, Advanced Nutraceutical Manufacturing LLC, Nutrition Private Label Inc., and Midwest Wholesale Distributors Inc. made and manufactured counterfeit bottles of the energy drink and were found to have violated Innovation Ventures' trademark. The court's opinion was 94 pages. You'll soon find out why.

Music streaming service Spotify will pay up to $25 million in royalties and a $5 million penalty to settle a long-standing licensing dispute with the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA). The issue concerned royalties for "unmatched" songs for which Spotify couldn't or didn't identify the original publisher.

So who gets paid what, and what does this mean for other streaming sites?

Court Finds Monkey Can't Own Selfie Copyright

Intellectual property law for now remains the domain of humans exclusively. A monkey cannot own the copyright to his selfie, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

An Indonesian macaque does not own the world-famous image he snapped of himself in 2011, District Judge William Orrick decided. In a tentative opinion issued Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, he wrote that there is "no indication" that the Copyright Act extends to animals, according to National Public Radio.

Samsung Settles Apple iPhone Suit ... Sort Of

Last week, Samsung announced that it agreed to pay Apple almost $550 million by mid-month to partially settle an iPhone patent infringement lawsuit. The settlement was filed in a California federal court after years of legal jousting between the companies. But the war is not over.

Samsung has expressed disappointment over the damages Apple claimed and reserved the right to seek reimbursement, Top Tech News reports. Apple sued Samsung in 2011 and at one point there were reportedly more than 50 intellectual property cases between the two companies pending in courts internationally. Now, there are two cases left, but experts predict a long road ahead before final settlement in this case.