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

Recently in Intellectual Property Law Category

When the FCC decided to turn its back on net neutrality, the state of California decided it was time to take action. In response, the California legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law, Senate Bill 822, named the California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018.

The California law is similar to the Brightline regulations imposed by the FCC in 2015, which were rescinded earlier this year. However, living up to its reputation as a leader, California's new net neutrality law goes a little bit further. Unfortunately for the state, the federal government isn't pleased with the state's new law and has filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District Court seeking to permanently enjoin enforcement of the law and have it invalidated under the Supremacy Clause.

Back in 2006, the North Coast Brewing Co. in Northern California's Mendocino County released a beer by the name of Brother Thelonious. A nearly 10 percent trappist style ale that has won awards and made a name for itself. Despite the accolades the beer has earned, it was named for the famous jazz musician, Thelonious Monk, with the permission of his son, who administers the deceased jazz legend's estate.

As part of the consent to use Monk's name, the brewery donated a portion of the proceeds to a charitable organization set up in Thelonious Monk's name. However, when Thelonious Monk Jr. discovered that North Coast Brewing had been using Thelonious Monk's likeness for more than just the craft beverage, he objected that merchandising was not within the scope of the consent he provided. After he revoked his permission and the brewery continued to produce and sell the beer, Thelonious Jr. filed suit.

Grumpy Cat Awarded $710K in Coffee Case

Don't believe the headlines that the Grumpy Cat won a lawsuit.

Sure, the "Grumpy Cat" is an internet sensation since her owner posted the pouty feline's pictures online years ago. And yes, her owner did win a $710,000 award against a father-and-son business that tried to capitalize on the cat's popularity.

But no, this is not like the selfie-monkey's copyright case. This licensing award goes to the cat's owner, Tabatha Bundesen, and Grumpy Cat Limited.

'Duck Dynasty' Co-Creators Lose Autonomous Control of Production Company

Who would have thought a show about ducks would be so successful?

It surprised almost everybody, but not the 12 million viewers who tuned in for its fourth season. Phil Robertson, the star of the show, said it started as "just a bunch of rednecks shooting ducks."

"Duck Dynasty" is really a story about a family. But four years later, it's a different story as the co-creators are fighting for their television lives in ITV Gurney Holding Inc. v. Gurney.

Tezos Organizers Sued for Blockchain Project

Tezos raised $232 million in an 'initial coin offering' just months ago, but already investors are suing for fraud.

The plaintiffs say they have not received promised tokens amidst reports of infighting among organizers of the blockchain project. But if the class action succeeds, will the defendants pay up in cryptocurrency?

It's not a real question -- just like virtual currency is not real money. It begs some questions, however, like: Why did people give up so much real money to get digital coins?

CA Supreme Court Bans Dredges for Mining Gold

This is bad news for gold miners who invested in expensive equipment designed to suck up tons of earth. Today, the California Supreme Court ruled that despite federal rules allowing citizens to mine for gold on federally owned land, state rules that ban certain mining practices trump those federal rules.

The case is still developing, but we continue to examine possible justifications for the courts' ruling.

Led Zeppelin Moves to Dismiss Case, Cites Mary Poppins as Inspiration

Legal counsel for Led Zeppelin urged a Los Angeles federal district court judge to dismiss the current copyright suit against the band over allegations that they stole a riff from the song "Taurus" by Spirit.

Based on what we know now of the suit, it appears that issues of fact could still be fleshed out -- despite our view that reasonable minds might disagree about the "substantial similarity" between "Taurus" and "Stairway to Heaven."

James Cameron Wins Again in Avatar Suit

Director James Cameron won another legal victory in California appeals court recently when a judge affirmed a lower court ruling generally finding that Cameron did not steal ideas from another writer in making his blockbuster hit Avatar.

So far, the courts have been favorable to Mr. Cameron. It is unclear whether or not the complainants plan to appeal this to a higher court, but with a portion of $3 billion at stake, we wouldn't be surprised.

Court Rejects CA's First 'Browsewrap' Case

The California Court of Appeal just adjudicated a browsewrap case on the merits that will now be considered the current benchmark case in the ever murky issue of web-user assent.

Hopefully this case will help to clarify the design elements that must be present for every webpage owner in order to ensure that their users get the notice needed for the applicable Terms of Use.

Self-Driving Cars Will Soon Be Legal in California

It should be no surprise that the California is spearheading that movement to get self-driving cars street legal. After all, Google's self-driving cars are being tested here and they're frequently seen driving themselves on Silicon Valley streets.

But is it as easy as just simply making these things and sticking them on the road? Not quite ... but you already knew that.