9th Circuit Intellectual Property Law News - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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Another day, another iconic 1960s musician's image going to federal court over trademark disputes. In August, the Ninth Circuit said that Jimi Hendrix's post-mortem publicity rights survived in Washington state, thanks to a state statute allowing it (otherwise, publicity rights don't normally survive death).

Last week, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a jury verdict finding several companies violated the Lanham Act by using Bob Marley's image on T-shirts and other merchandise.

Hot on the heels (at least in terms of court timelines) of winning a deceptive trade practices suit at the U.S. Supreme Court, POM Wonderful, fabled maker of pomegranate juice, won another suit at the Ninth Circuit. This time, POM Wonderful claimed that a rival company was improperly using its trademark, which might cause confusion.

On balance, said the court, a reasonable consumer could mistake a competitor's product for POM Wonderful's.

9 From the 9th: Trademark Tacking, Federal Tort Tolling, Church Signs

FindLaw's "SCOTUS Week" is coming to a close -- but wait, what's that? Overtime? Extra innings?

Exactly, and you have the Ninth Circuit to thank for the bonus coverage. Why? Because the Ninth Circuit has nine cases on the Supreme Court's docket so far -- one of which, Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, has already been argued and blogged about on our In House blog.

What about the other eight? Here's Part 1 of our Ninth Circuit SCOTUS preview:

A lawsuit over the licensing rights to Jimi Hendrix's likeness in Washington state threatened to place many undergraduate dorm rooms' decoration decisions in jeopardy. Thankfully, the Ninth Circuit stepped in to resolve the dispute so that there will be no shortage of Hendrix posters in college towns across America come move-in day.

Experience Hendrix owns Jimi Hendrix's post-mortem publicity rights in Washington state, and other Hendrix trademarks nationally. It licenses these to people like Andrew Pitsicalis, who create or license original art featuring depicting Hendrix. Pitsicalis, in turn, began licensing this artwork to others and also bought the domain names hendrixlicensing.com and hendrixartwork.com.

Roundup: Google v. Garcia Amended, No Dish Hopper Injunction

We've got a twin pack of updates for you on this midsummer Monday afternoon, both involving preliminary injunctions, video content, and non-traditional distribution mediums.

In one case, which pits a major television network against an alternative video distribution medium (it's almost Aereo part II), the panel declined to issue a preliminary injunction. In the other, we have a bit of backtracking (but not enough) by the panel in an amended opinion in a dangerous precedential case that imposed prior restraint on speech on the basis of a questionable copyright claim.

The Ninth Circuit can add another notch to its "Supreme Court reversal belt."

On Monday, the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit judgment dismissing a copyright heir's claim on the basis of laches. Finding the court's judgment in error, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded.

Which 9th Circuit Judges Failed to Recuse, Despite a Conflict?

A few weeks ago, we got a crash course in recusals and unrecusals, when Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito sold stocks and "unrecused" from two cases being before the high court.

While it's common sense that Federal judges would be required to self-recuse if their financial holdings lead to a conflict of interest, the unrecusal tax break, for when judges sell stock to remove a conflict, was a fun surprise. And as you might expect, courts have adopted conflict screening systems to ensure that these mandated recusals actually happen.

Even with a system in place, however, a few conflicts were overlooked.

9th Kills Free Speech Twice: First T-Shirts, Then YouTube?

It's been a bad week for free speech, with censured shirts and prior restraints on speech.

We were all ready to lambast the Ninth Circuit's opinion in Dariano v. Morgan Hill, where the court allowed a school district to ban t-shirts with the American Flag on them (for safety!). Then, the court topped itself, with a idiotic takedown order of the infamous and also idiotic "Innocence of Muslims" video on YouTube, due to an actress's copyright claim over her fifteen seconds of footage.

It gets worse: the court also made their order under seal, with a gag order in place. Once, twice, three times a censor.

This Quentin Tarantino v. Gawker Lawsuit Is a Load of Crap

Quentin Tarantino wrote a script. He gave the script, without any security precautions (such as watermarking or armed guards) to six people in Hollywood. One of the six people leaked it. Shocking.

It made it onto the Internet. Again, shocking. Tarantino complained to Deadline Hollywood about the leak.

At this point, the story became newsworthy. Even without his statements to Deadline Hollywood, his next movie would be newsworthy, but doubly so when he complains about it and tells a media outlet that he's considering postponing or cancelling the movie due to the leak.

At this point, you want to read the script. So do I. When the script popped up online, Gawker's Defamer blog, which covers the underbelly of the industry (including Tarantino's foot fetish), published a story about it, including a link.

Inhale Inc. Gets Smoked by Starbuzz in Hookah Copyright Dispute

Legend has it that the Persians invented the hookah many centuries ago. In that time, the design has changed little. The base holds water, the stem leads to a tobacco bowl, where tobacco and coals create smoke. A hose, connected near the base, uses suction to pull smoke from the tobacco, through the water, and back through the hose, where it is inhaled.

Hookahs come in all shapes and sizes, from mini-hookahs (which look like massively oversized smokers' pipes) to insanely elaborate works of art.

Inhale, Inc.'s copyrighted hookah was none of these things. The company copyrighted its base in 2011, which looks like every other base from the last few hundred years, except it had skull decorations. Starbuzz, a competing company, also makes hookahs, which unsurprisingly, have the same shaped vase, though theirs lacked skulls. Inhale sued Starbuzz one month after obtaining their copyright. And they lost. And they appealed.

And now, they just got smoked.