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DeLorean Widow Loses Royalties Case

It turns out you can go back to the future only in the movies, not in royalty claims.

So it seems for Sallie DeLorean in DeLorean v. DeLorean Motor Company. The widow of carmaker John DeLorean sued for royalties the car company received through merchandising and commercials from the Back to the Future movies.

If you didn't know it, the movies made more money than the car. But the plaintiff will get none of that because, well, it's in the past.

Television Producer Lee Daniels Wins Copyright Case Over 'Empire'

Clayton Prince Tanksley, a struggling actor and producer, thought he had hit.

He pitched a story idea in a contest, and then saw a similar show make it to the screen. "Empire," a Fox Television production, was a hit.

Unfortunately for the aspiring producer in Tanksley v. Daniels, it was not based on his idea. Not even close, said the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The makers of the brand name pharmaceuticals Lipitor and Effexor XR were dealt a significant loss in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a consolidated antitrust case appeal. Drug makers Pfizer and Ranbaxy, as well as their affiliates, plan to continue to fight this matter out.

The In re: Lipitor Antitrust Litigation appeal overturned a district court's dismissal of two separate complaints against each drug's respective maker. The thrust of both cases involved reverse payment settlement agreements which were alleged to be anticompetitive and attempts at creating a monopoly. Additionally, as to the claims against Lipitor, it was alleged that the drug maker engaged in fraudulent patent procurement and enforcement.

Just a few days after the most popular hot dog eating holiday in the country, the legal fight between two titans of the hot dog industry came one step closer to reaching a final resolution. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued their order in the closely watched Parks v. Tyson case. Tyson Foods owns Ball Park brand hot dogs, while Parks became known for making PARKS' brand hot dogs.

Although the PARKS brand was, at one time, among the leading brand of hot dogs, after the owner died, the company never really recovered, but it never went away. However, when Ball Park sought to expand their line of dogs with their new "Park's Finest" label, Parks the brand filed suit claiming trademark dilution, infringement, and false advertising.

Remember Usher, the R&B singer who was inescapable on pop radio in the late 90s and throughout the early 2000s? Who starred in "Moesha" and "She's All That" and whose "Confessions" album was described as "the 'Thriller' of our generation"? Well, he's back -- in the Third Circuit, that is.

Usher won a long-standing copyright infringement lawsuit over his 2004 hit song "Bad Girl" last Friday, when the Third Circuit tossed the infringement suit against him.

Wannabe 'Navajo' Goods Causes Trouble for Urban Outfitters

Have you tried to get your auto-insurance to foot the bill for damages arising from an incident that happened before you bought their policy? Sounds ridiculous, right? Well that's essentially what Urban Outfitters tried doing.

The Third Circuit ruled that Urban Outfitters can't crash into someone's mailbox, then buy insurance and have the insurance pay for the mailbox. Hanover Insurance will not be indemnifying Urban Outfitters' trademark violations of the Navajo Nation's trademark on goods that evoke the Navajo, or alleged market confusion. Reuters reports that a case of this type is one of first impression for the Third Circuit. If that's true, that's astounding. But for some reason, there's lot of this sort of IP "first impression" business going on in the Third Circuit.

The Third Circuit clarified trademark confusion standards under the Lanham Act last week. In a case involving two financial services firms, the court re-emphasized that a trademark is infringed when another mark is so similar that it is likely to cause confusion.

That's just confusion itself, not confusion to purchasers or confusion to customers, the Third Circuit ruled. This ruling reversed a lower court's determination that a trademark was unlikely to be infringed because evidence of confusion was not from "actual customers."

Led Zeppelin Faces 'Stairway to Heaven' Lawsuit Thanks to 'Raging Bull'

One of the most legendary rock songs of all time, "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin, might just be a copy-and-paste job. That's the claim of the heirs of Randy Craig Wolfe (aka Randy California), a legendary guitarist in his own right, a protege of Jimi Hendrix who formed the band Spirit when he was still a teenager and was a pioneer in the psychedelic rock category.

Spirit released the instrumental interlude "Taurus" two years before "Stairway to Heaven." Zeppelin toured with Spirit and often covered the latter band's songs when they opened for them.

Now Wolfe's estate, decades after the songs were released, is raising a copyright infringement claim over the issue.

This week the Third Circuit decided two issues of first impression in the circuit: (1) when a claim of joint authorship arises and accrues under the Copyright Act; and (2) whether courts are imbued with the authority to cancel copyrights.

Tina Lindsay and Peter Brownstein worked for a direct mailing list company. While there, they began working on their own venture: an ethnic identification system for purposes of direct marketing. Lindsay developed the step-by-step rules, and she enlisted Brownstein to develop the code.

Throughout the process the two considered each other joint-owners, though afterward, in a series of agreements, Lindsay tried to act as the sole owner of the copyrights. The court found that Brownstein and Lindsay were indeed joint owners, and that Lindsay's claims that Brownstein worked for hire were without merit, because among other things, he was never compensated.

There’s not much in the way of outstanding jurisprudence coming out of the Third Circuit this week, but there are two interesting cases, and one of them comes with fries.