Claim on the Caribbean

Pirate Flag

Arghhhhh!

In a shocking lawsuit, an author claimed that Disney stole his idea in their film, Pirates of the Caribbean. In the film, the pirates transform into living skeletons under moonlight. This author failed at attempting to make billions when a federal judge ruled in Disney’s favor. Royce Matthew, the plaintiff in this suit, has failed several times in lawsuits regarding the wildly successful Pirates of the Caribbean films. His first lawsuit attempt dates back to 2005, promptly followed by a second attempt in 2006. The 2006 lawsuit was quelled when Disney revealed old “theme park art” that dated far beyond Royce Matthew’s claims. This art proved that Disney independently put forth the idea of “unique supernatural elements”. After this event, Matthew signed a release form.

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Spider-Man Swings to Supreme Court

spider web, by flickr user cybershot dude, licensed by Creative Commons

Trapped in a web

If you are a child during the holiday season, there may be no better gift than a brand new Spider-Man toy. However, it appears that a trademark lawsuit may keep some Marvel merchandise off the shelves. A man named Stephen Kimble invented a toy glove that fires silly string, allowing kids to pretend they are the web-slinging hero Spider-Man. Marvel bought the idea and had been paying Kimble royalties from sales, until his patent on the idea ran out. Furious, the inventor filed a lawsuit to overturn a 50-year-old Supreme Court ruling about expiring patents, seemingly forcing Spider-Man to trade in his red-and-blue spandex for a suit and tie. Read more

Satellite Radio Has Serious Problems

Rocktail Beach Camp KZN, by flickr user Jolene Bertoldi, licensed by Creative Commons.

“God I love being a turtle.”

Contrary to popular belief, music is never really free; just ask a musician. The satellite radio company Sirius XM was sued over copyright and trademark laws by a 1960s band called The Turtles. With the passing of federal copyright protection for recorded music in 1972, the royalties for music made before that date have been a hot button issue. The band claims that its’ music was broadcast on satellite radio without any compensation or consent of the creators. A series of lawsuits were filed against both Sirius XM and Pandora Media in New York, Florida, and California, with the band seeking about $100mm worth of damages. Read more

Slip Up: Banana Lady’s Lawsuits Bear No Fruit

bananas

Crazy? More like going bananas.

Catherine Conrad makes a living as an inspirational speaker, personal motivator, and also delivers singing telegrams dressed in a banana suit.  After several incidents with clients which ended up in Ms. Conrad filing multiple lawsuits, it seems the U.S. District Courts have had enough.  A recent ruling against the Wisconsin-native claims that although those who receive the banana-grams take pictures and videos, Catherine has no copyright claim over the over-sized, yellow costume. Previously, she had filed infringement lawsuits of anywhere between $40,000 and $80,000.  A jurist recently declared that her accusations and demands were “without merit” and an “abuse of the legal process”. Read more

Copyright Case: Who Owns “Happy Birthday”?

Happy Birthday

Time to blow out the candles

Thinking of video taping that special someone’s Birthday festivities? Not so fast… You may be documenting an unfolding crime. Unbeknownst to myself and the general public, you could potentially be treading the line of infringing upon United States Copyright Law. As soon as the widely believed “timeless classic”, “Happy Birthday to You” ballad escapes your lips you are leaving yourself susceptible to civil lawsuit by the copyright holder; in this case, Warner/Chappell Music Inc. To prevent one’s self from running afoul of the law one must pay the $1500 licensing fee imposed by Warner/Chappell Music Inc.

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