U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

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A three judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the family and heirs of Marvin Gaye in the appeal filed by Robyn Thicke and Pharrell Williams. The pop stars appealed the district court's ruling on summary judgment as well as the court's handling of several issues at trial.

Unfortunately for the litigious pop stars, the Ninth Circuit panel ruled that there was no error at trial that could save them, and that the jury's verdict precludes the appeal of the summary judgment ruling. Notably though, rapper T.I. and Interscope Records, whom the jury returned not guilty verdicts for and the lower court held liable regardless, were let off the hook by the appellate panel.

'Stairway to Heaven' Lawsuit Plays Out in Ninth Circuit

Randy California may have made it to heaven, but his lawsuit over the song "Stairway to Heaven" is stuck in federal court.

California, the late guitarist, claimed to have written a song that Led Zeppelin copied to record "Stairway to Heaven." Michael Skidmore brought the copyright infringement suit on his behalf, but a jury decided the songs were not substantially similar.

In arguments to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Skidmore's attorney said the trial judge erred by not allowing jurors to hear California's full composition. Perhaps the judge didn't like rock, but the appeals court wanted to hear more.

Court: Photographer Can't Copyright Michael Jordan's 'Jumpman' Pose

For all his fame, Michael Jordan is best known to basketball fans for his signature flight to the hoop.

"I Believe I Can Fly," the song, comes in a close second. But even that is based on his gravity-defying dunks that earned him the title of "His Airness."

"The Jumpman" also earned him a whole lot of money when Nike used the pose to create a logo for Air Jordan basketball shoes. A photographer who captured Jordan in the same pose wanted some of that, but he's not getting any in Rentmeester v. Nike, Inc.

The innovative, too good to be true, movie ticket service, MoviePass has filed a patent infringement action against its new competitor Sinemia. And while MoviePass may not be able to prevent competitors from entering into the newly created space, it can certainly try to stamp out those competitors that steal their tech.

If you like going to the movies (but hate the rising price of movie tickets), and haven't heard of MoviePass, you'll want to read on to learn how this innovative service works.

When one of the nation's largest beer producers decided to rebrand one of the worst beers in the country, they probably didn't think it could get any worse. However, MillerCoors may now be fighting an uphill legal battle as, not surprisingly for MillerCoors, the rebranding team clearly isn't into craft beer and seems to have clearly infringed on one of the biggest craft brewery's IP.

Stone Brewing Company filed suit against MillerCoors as a result of its Keystone beer being rebranded as just Stone. As Stone Brewing explains in the federal complaint, the mass produced beer not only confuses consumers with this rebranding, it harms the craft beer company's reputation because it is an inferior product. Interestingly though, in a video posted by the craft brewery's CEO, he claims that the lawsuit would go away if Keystone just put the Key back in the name.

Court: Wyland Didn't Infringe for Crossing Dolphins Art

Peter A. Folkens drew a picture of two dolphins crossing underwater. Robert Wyland painted a similar picture.

The artists appreciate the same marine animals, but they have had different commercial successes. Folkens' drawing, adapted for a Greenpeace card, sells for 1.50 Euros. Wyland's art sells for a lot more.

Folkens thought he could capture some of Wyland's earnings by suing for copyright in Folkens v. Wyland Worldwide. A federal appeals court said there is no copyright in a naturally occuring scene.

The cookie business is serious business. And when Whole Foods used the name "Eat Right America" to brand food items that were not made by the cookie maker EatRight Foods (who actually sold their cookies at Whole Foods), Eat Right Foods had to put up a fight to protect their trademark.

Unfortunately for EatRight, the cookie trademark fight hit a serious setback in 2015 when the district court dismissed their claims due to a laches defense. However, on appeal, the Ninth Circuit just ruled that the district court's judgment was a bit hasty, and the panel of judges reversed and remanded.

Internet users can breathe a collective sigh of relief as the Ninth Circuit has just reaffirmed their prior precedent that violating a website's terms of service is not a criminal act.

While the appeal handed down is a mixed bag of good and bad news for Rimini, the company Oracle sought to hold criminally liable for violating Oracle's TOS, the good is that Rimini has escaped the criminal liability portion of the district court's judgment. The bad news is that the circuit court affirmed the district court's judgment on the copyright infringement claims.

Free TV still exists, and some of the new digital antennae even resemble the bunny-ears of years past. However, just like stealing cable became a thing decades ago, stealing streaming subscription TV is becoming a thing in our 21st century digital world.

If you didn't know, there are numerous websites out there, with less than scrupulous regard for U.S law, that allow anyone to stream just about anything on TV or in the theaters, for free. A new-ish device, The Dragon Box, allows individuals to essentially watch everything available online from these types of websites, right on their TVs, regardless of legality. Not surprisingly, the legitimate streaming services, and other providers, have a problem with this new device and have filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for Central District of California. Plaintiffs include: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros., and Columbia Pictures. 

Court Ends Steinbeck Family Feud

Another chapter in John Steinbeck's legacy is over -- at least until the next one.

Steinbeck died almost 50 years ago, but his heirs have been fueding over his estate ever since. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently wrote another chapter in that sad story.

In Steinbeck v. Kaffaga, the appeals court closed the book on claims by the author's sons and daughter-in-law to movie adaptations of his literary work "Of Mice and Men."