7th Circuit Intellectual Property Law News - U.S. Seventh Circuit
U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recent Intellectual Property Law Decisions

The Seventh Circuit recently heard a case involving the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, better known as the creator of our favorite British detectives Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, reports The Washington Post. The question before the court was whether copyright protection, which had already expired, can be extended because the author later "altered the character in a subsequent work."

As Judge Posner explains, it's all "elementary."

So a lady in a banana costume, known as the "Banana Lady," walks in to a court room ... This is not the start of a joke. This is real.

Thankfully, this happened in the "Benchslappy" Seventh Circuit, and Judge Posner was on the panel assigned to this case, and wrote the opinion. You can probably guess where this is going.

In September 2009, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and to commemorate the event, Sports Illustrated devoted an issue to highlighting Michael Jordan's legendary career. Sports Illustrated offered Jewel-Osco supermarkets ("Jewel") a free ad in the magazine, in exchange for Jewel selling the magazines in its store.

Jewel's ad was a full-pager, placed on the inside back cover, and featured a pair of basketball shoes bearing Michael Jordan's number 23, with a congratulatory note, as well as Jewel's logo and slogan, reports the Chicago Tribune. What was meant as a congratulatory note was instead seen as a misappropriation of identity and resulted in a lawsuit, reports ESPN.

In the battle of the Cracker Barrels, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of preliminary injunctive relief against Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. ("CBOCS"), reports the Chicago Tribune.

The Cracker Barrel Names

Kraft has been selling low-cost, processed cheese under the Cracker Barrel name for over 50 years, to thousands of grocery stores across the country. CBOCS is a chain restaurant with 620 locations across the country. When Kraft learned that CBOCS planned to sell prepared foods to grocery stores under the CBOCS name, Kraft initiated a trademark infringement suit under the Lanham Act, and requested a preliminary injunction. The district court granted Kraft's motion, and CBOCS appealed.

Elton John Didn't Copy Man's Cold War Love Ballad: 7th Cir.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court's decision to "12(b)(6)" a man's claim that pop star Elton John stole his lyrics for a love song.

Guy Hobbs, the allegedly wronged songrwiter, claimed his lyrics referenced the Cold War and a Communist woman with a name starting with "N."

Hobbs sued Elton John in federal court in Illinois, alleging Elton's 1985 song "Nikita" (which was written by lyricist Bernie Taupin) infringed on a song Hobbs wrote called "Natasha."

Seventh Circuit: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Rip Off Nietzsche

Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, and Nietzsche (figuratively) walk into the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Hilarity ensues.

The Seventh Circuit ruled this week that aspiring hip-hop artist Vince P. can't sue Kanye West for ripping off his song, because both West and P. were ripping off Nietzsche.

No, folks. We can't make this stuff up.

Cheapskate Porn Viewers Dodge Bullet in 7th Cir myVidster Appeal

Copyright holders can be rather prickly about their protecting their works. For example, Flava Works, a porn production company, gets antsy when people copy their pay-to-play content and host it for free on other websites. When Flava Works discovered its flava-ful content on MyVidster.com, it joined forces with the Motion Picture Association of America to sue MyVidster for copyright infringement.

Last year, U.S. District Judge John Grady agreed with Flava Works and the Motion Picture Association of American that myVidster, a social video bookmarking site, infringed on copyrighted material by embedding Flava Works' videos and reaping the ad revenue rewards. Judge Grady concluded that myVidster was not protected under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision.

Can South Park Get a 'What What'? 7th Circuit Says Its Fair Use

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that a South Park parody of a viral video, (which, in turn, became its own viral video), was clearly a parody of the original and protected under the fair use doctrine, reports TechDirt.

In 2008, South Park incorporated a parody of a video called, "What What (In the Butt)" (WWITB) in one of its episodes. The parody featured Butters, one of the South Park characters, singing WWITB. The Seventh Circuit described it as "a paean to anal sex."

Lawsuits Make Strange Bedfellows: MPAA, Porn, and Infringement

The Motion Picture Association of America has joined forced with Flava Works, a gay porn production company, in a copyright infringement lawsuit over a website that allowed users to upload embedded links to porn videos. The case is now on appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Flava Works claims that myVidster.com, a social video bookmarking site, infringed on its copyrighted material by embedding Flava Works' videos on myVidster and reaping the ad revenue rewards. Last year, a federal judge in Illinois agreed, and ruled that myVidster was not protected under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision.

Copyright Case? WIAA Has Exclusive School Sports Broadcast Rights

If you pay for cable, you probably don't spend time thinking about which media outlet has the right to broadcast your favorite college's football games.

If, like us, you stopped paying for cable years ago in favor of delayed, free access to television shows online, broadcast rights are an issue every Saturday morning during college football season as you scramble to find a live-stream broadcast to watch your team dominate over a higher-ranked opponent.

The question of media rights, however, is no longer restricted to college and professional football; the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that high school athletic associations, like National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) conferences, can enter into exclusive contracts to assign Internet streaming rights for high school sporting events.