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Iconic high-end leisure wear co. Vineyard Vines sues Rehoboth tshirt shop to protect whale Logo

August 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Source of this excerpt: DelawareOnline.com (Maureen Milford)

vineyardvines-trademark-Whales-4x3_delonline

[The News Journal]

The Connecticut brothers who built a successful clothing company that embodies the prepster lifestyle of Martha’s Vineyard have stirred up a nor’easter for a Rehoboth Beach T-shirt shop.

Vineyard Vines LLC, a company started by Ian and Shep Murray in 1998, has sued Rehoboth Lifestyle Clothing Co. for selling tops and sweatshirts that say “rehoboth” and are embroidered with big smiling whales. The jaunty-tailed whales bear a striking resemblance to the iconic trademark seen on the Murrays’ high-end ties, shirts, jackets, dresses and other products, the lawsuit alleges.

The way the Stamford, Connecticut, company sees it, Rehoboth Lifestyle is infringing on its registered trademark and diluting its “famous trademark,” according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. Vineyard Vines clothing, which has been spotted on movie stars and several presidents, is pricey, with a cotton dress shirt selling for $128 on the company’s website. […]

I doubt a court would find that the Vineyard Vines whale, even as popular, well-known and iconic as it may be, is indeed a “famous mark” as that term is defined under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act. Bigger ‘fish’ have tried and failed. The short list includes: XEROX, KODAK, COCA-COLA, and REEBOK.  Read more about trademark dilution and famous mark cases. But it seems that Vineyard Vines has a strong case in establishing the “likelihood” of confusion. Actual confusion of consumers is not required.

I was quoted in the article to explain why it is important for trademark owners to police and to protect their marks. The consequences of not doing so could be extremely costly to their brand and business. And the failure to police may also lead to “genericide”, causing the owners to lose their exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the sale of its goods and services. Common examples of well-known companies whose marks became generic

In the article, I also explained the general purposes of trademark law. Read the full article:

Whale war: Vineyard Vines, Rehoboth shop clash over logo

So what do you think? Are consumers likely to be confused, even if initially, by the local t-shirt company’s mirror-image, stylized pink whale? More specifically, is it more likely than not that some consumer might be confused? If so, what’s the harm?

~Prof TE~ Follow me on Twitter @IPProfEvans

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Evans: Prof, Poet & now Photog in Widener U’s Evening of the Arts

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment
Credit: Tonya M. Evans, Wisdom Whispers Photograpy 2013

Credit: Tonya Evans, Wisdom Whispers Photography 2013

As a bit of a renaissance woman, I have a passion for all things intellectual and expressive. In fact, before becoming an Associate Professor of Law, I was known as “Lawyer by Day, Poet by night“. I am also obsessed with capturing the creative while viewing life through my lens.

I’m not trained (yet). But I am inspired to capture creative shots, especially city views and nature scenes. As an intellectually curious person and life-long learner, I always seek new opportunities for creative expression. With the advent of high-tech smart phone digital camera technology, I fell in love with the photographic images I captured throughout my travels.

After receiving an announcement from public relations Director Mary Allen about the Widener University’s “Evening of the Arts”, I decided that it was time for my photos to have a life beyond my smart phone and Canon PowerShot. Although not high-end photog gear to be sure, I’ve managed to shoot some beautiful photos and to nurture my creative curiosity in the photographic medium.

About the Photographic Exhibit

All five of my images are Read more…

Village People member & writer of YMCA uses law to reclaim his copyrights!

September 11, 2013 1 comment

Credit: Robert Benson, NY Times

Creative Commons License
Village People member & writer of YMCA uses law to reclaim his copyrights! by Professor Tonya M. Evans is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://proftevans.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/ymcasong/.

Forget Y … M … C … A.

V (which stands for victory) is Victor Willis’s new favorite letter of the alphabet. That’s because he, the “policeman” member of the Village People, successfully used a powerful right in the Copyright Act called termination of transfers to reclaim his copyright in the popular and perennial hit YMCA and other songs.

The termination right is a little known but powerful opportunity for people who’ve created copyrighted works (like a songwriter, writer, photographer, for example) and transferred them to others (a recording or publishing company, for example) to get their rights back 35 years after the transfer. It’s a right that exists regardless of what the original transfer document said. So all of that “in perpetuity” language? Forget about it. The right cannot be contracted away but it can be forever lost if not exercised in a timely or proper fashion. Read more…

Marvel, Freelancer come to a win-win over Ghost Rider Copyright Battle

September 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Impending trial dates have a funny way of inspiring settlement agreements …. TE

SOURCE: Reuters.com

By: Bernard Vaughan NEW YORK

“Marvel Comics has agreed to settle a lawsuit by a comic book writer who sued the publisher over the copyright to the flaming-skulled character Ghost Rider. The agreement, disclosed in a letter filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, if finalized would resolve five-years of litigation brought by former Marvel freelancer Gary Friedrich, who claimed he created the motorcycle-riding vigilante.

….

Gary Friedrich began considering legal action against the comic book company in 2004 when he learned of an impending movie adaptation. He sued Marvel for copyright infringement, claiming that he owned the character and its use in films as well as toys, video games and other merchandise. Marvel argued that while Friedrich contributed ideas, the comic was created through a collaborative process.”

Read the complete article “Marvel, writer agree to settle Ghost Rider copyright suit” at Reuters.com

**Hot Topic presented originally by T. Wise, member the faux student firm of Zarefoss, Petrou & McClogan in my Copyright & Trademark class.**

Copyright and the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. via Plagiarism Today

August 28, 2013 Leave a comment

“Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most powerful, meaningful and important speeches in U.S. history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.It’s nearly impossible to overstate the importance the speech had and continues to have on the civil rights movement, race relations and U.S. history in general. That 17-minute speech, given on August 28, 1963, continues to echo today with people of all stripes.

However, use of the speech is still strictly limited. Though King’s heirs have made the speech available for educational use, or at least declined to take action against educators, they have a long history of taking legal action against others who use the speech, including TV stations, newspapers and documentaries.

This has led to criticism from other civil rights leaders and has made it difficult for others to use the speech, even as they seek to honor it on the 50th anniversary.”

Blurred Copyright Lines Between Robin Thicke’s Tune and Marvin Gaye’s Estate?

August 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Billboard.com reported on August 15, 2013 that Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris, Jr. (aka T.I.) filed a peremptory lawsuit in California federal court against Marvin Gaye’s family and Bridgeport Music, which owns some of Funkadelic’s compositions. At issue are complaints about similarities between “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got To Give it Up”.

Photo appears at potholesinmyblogIn the trio’s lawsuit of Williams, Thicke & Harris v. Bridgeport Music, Gaye et al., they argued: “Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists. Defendants continue to insist that plaintiffs’ massively successful composition, ‘Blurred Lines,’ copies ‘their’ compositions.”

Billboard.com reports further on August 23rd that the defendants rejected a six-figure settlement offer that came shortly after the lawsuit was filed:

“According to sources knowledgeable with the lawsuit, the settlement offer came after Frankie Christian Gaye, Marvin Gaye III and Nona Marvisa Gaye accused Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” hit single of plagiarizing “Got To Give it Up,” written and composed by Marvin Gaye, who died in 1984.”

In the court of public opinion, many fans of both artists pick up the similarities. The legal question is whether similarities are “substantially” so as a matter of law and whether the trio copied from the original unlawfully.

Only time will tell. Most of these cases settle out of court. But in light of the bright line drawn in the sand by Thicke and his co-composers and the value of Marvin Gaye’s copyrights and family’s reaction both to the song and the lawsuit, this is just the type of suit that could actually play out in the courtroom.

What do you think about the song? Similar? Substantially so? Check out the video mashup and share your two cents in the comments section:

Link to the video mashup of Marvin Gaye & Robin Thicke at Vimeo.com

UPDATE 10/30/2013: New information about the legal wrangling between Thicke et al and the Gaye Estate

*Thanks to C. Zittle and T. Danon from my Copyright & Trademark class for this Hot Topic*

Supreme Court Hears Two Landmark Cases in Same-Sex Marriage Equality

March 26, 2013 1 comment

March_25

This week marks a historic time in our nation’s highest Court. Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Proposition 8. Proposition 8 was California’s 2008 ballot initiative banning gay marriage. It won support from 52% of voters and nullified a decision five months earlier by the state’s Supreme Court allowing the practice. The state court in May 2009 said the ban could stand. Listen to oral arguments or read the transcript.

On Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 federal law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages regardless of their validity under state law. Some of my students at Widener University School of Law are increasing awareness of DOMA on campus by providing information and answering questions at a booth hosted by OUTLAW, the school’s LGBTQ campus organization.

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about DOMA provided by GLAAD. Read more…

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