Bieber Fever: Star Named in Copyright Lawsuit

You said you would always be mine

Just like the common cold, pretty much everyone has had Bieber fever, but apparently people are immune to the epidemic. Two songwriters, Devin Copeland and Mareio Overton, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Virginia against the pop star. Justin Beiber and Usher are facing a $10 million lawsuit for supposedly stealing song “Somebody to Love.” Back in 2009, Copeland and Overton claim that “Somebody To Love” was presented to Usher and Jonetta Patton, Usher’s mother, who also plays the role of his manager from time to time, by music scouts. They state that copy was never returned and that they never heard back from Jonetta or anyone associated with the company. Read more

Achtung Spidey! Broadway Lawsuit Set for Court

“I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls…”

Spider-Man has always been much more familiar with spandex suits than lawsuits.  The Broadway play ‘Turn Off the Dark’ is slinging across headlines after the old co-writer and musical director Julie Taymor is suing over copyright infringement.  She is seeking compensation up to $1 million after being terminated after the show suffered from freak injuries and other mishaps.  It was believed that a decision could be reached, however sources claim the final stumbling block was creative control over Marvel’s web-head himself.  U2’s Bono and The Edge, who are the show’s composers, are also set to appear for the court date in New York, officially set for May 28. Read more

Bad Reception: Web-TV Service Avoids Lawsuit

Hello, is there anybody in there?

There seems to be a buzz in the air around New York City recently and cable/satellite providers aren’t happy about it.  The internet-powered television service, Aereo, allows users to enjoy basic programs for an incredibly small cost and has thrived despite a growing number of lawsuits.  Companies such as Cablevision contend that this alternative to their offerings violates certain copyrights and contracts.  Aereo argues that since their units include small antennas, the analog signal they pick up is free over the airwaves and not breaking any laws.  Aereo, which is backed by media executive Barry Diller, plans to grow their service area over the next few months including major cities such as Washington D.C., Boston, and Chicago. Read more

Mojang Settles with Zenimax over “Scrolls” Trademark

A bunch of trademark infringements in a basket.

Mojang, the creators of the indie sleeper hit videogame Minecraft, have settled with Zenimax, the publisher of the ultra-popular Skyrim, over the use of the word “scrolls” in Mojang’s upcoming release.  Zenimax and their subsidiary, Bethesda Softworks, claimed that the game’s name, which is simply “Scrolls”, was too close to their trademark property “The Elder Scrolls”, a long-running game series since 1994 whose latest installment grossed at least $600 million.  Trademark lawsuits are generally about whether a consumer would reasonably confuse a product, based on how similar the names are or whether the products themselves are similar, among other things.  While any idiot could tell at first glance that Scrolls is not the same as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Zenimax’s main purpose in filing this lawsuit was most likely to demonstrate their willingness to protect their trademark.  If a defendant in a future, actual case of trademark infringement can prove that Zenimax has not attempted to enforce its trademark in the past, the company could possibly lose the trademark entirely — a situation that the occasional frivolous suit against low-key indie developers can help avoid.  The settlement in this case allows Mojang to keep the name “Scrolls”, but cedes the trademark, “Scrolls”, over to Zenimax.  Ostensibly, this is what both companies wanted in the first place.

The judge in this case noted that scrolls are very common in fantasy, which is the genre of both games.  An analogy to this case would be if Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien sued every fantasy writer to later use “rings” in the title, despite the fact that magic rings are a common element in all fantasy stories.  Interesting, because a comparison of the Elder Scrolls universe and Tolkien lore will unearth nearly-derivative similarities on all levels that I won’t bore you with (though I could probably discuss that for a few hours).  So do they owe the Tolkien estate any money?  Should they stop making their games due to copyright?  In creative endeavors, creators build upon the works of creators past.  Though this case was about the title of a game, and not at all about gameplay or visual style or even content (if it were, they would have no case whatsoever), hopefully Zenimax will at least recognize their own creative debts.

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Harley-Davidson Given the Boot


The motorcycle company Harley-Davidson has settled a suit with the estate of Marlon Brando over the unlicensed use of the iconic actor’s name.  Apparently, Harley-Davidson produced and sold a boot called the “Brando” which resembled the footwear worn by the actor in the 1953 film The Wild One.  The details of the settlement are not public.  What came over the Harley-Davidson company to think selling clothing called “Brando” would be a good idea?  They license their own name for $43.2 million a year — surely they must know how copyright works.  Perhaps they thought they could fly a little closer to the sun this time, though this writer asks: is nothing sacred?

Read more at Reuters