Ninth Circuit Holds “Bad Spaniels” Dog Toy Is an “Expressive Work”

By Anne Bolamperti and David G. Barker The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held in VIP Products LLC v. Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. that the “Bad Spaniels” dog toy is an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection. The court vacated the United States District Court for the District of Arizona’s judgment that the toy infringed the Jack Daniel’s trade dress and registered bottle design. VIP Products designs and sells rubber dog toys that employ entertaining adaptations of various beverage brands.  Beginning in July 2013, VIP began selling the “Bad Spaniels” version of the toy, which resembles the iconic   Read More »

Posted in Trademark Litigation | Tagged ,

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Led Zeppelin Ruling Overturns Ninth Circuit’s ‘Inverse Ratio Rule’

By Shalayne L. Pillar and David G. Barker On March 9, 2020, Led Zeppelin won a major copyright battle over claims that they stole part of their signature song “Stairway to Heaven.”  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling en banc, upheld a 2016 jury verdict that cleared the band of infringing a 1967 instrumental ballad titled “Taurus” by the band Spirit.  The ruling overturned a 2018 decision by a panel of three Ninth Circuit judges that held the trial judge failed to inform jurors that unprotectable elements could be protected by copyright law when arranged in creative ways (see   Read More »

Posted in Copyright Litigation | Tagged ,

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SCOTUS: “Full Costs” Are Just Costs

By Mark Webb and David G. Barker Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Rimini Street v. Oracle USA that  “full costs” described in 17 U.S.C. § 505 of the (Copyright Act) are limited to the six categories of taxable costs set forth in 28 U.S.C.  §§ 1821, 1920. The decision reversed the district court’s award of, and the Ninth Circuit’s order affirming, $12,774,550.26 in additional costs to Oracle for litigation costs outside of those delineated in §§ 1821 and 1920, such as expert witnesses, e-discovery, and jury consulting. The Court determined, absent an explicit statutory instruction, a   Read More »

Posted in Copyright Litigation, IP and Technology Litigation, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

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Ninth Circuit Refuses to Vacate Lower Court’s Ruling After Settlement During Appeal

By Rachael Peters Pugel and David G. Barker On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit declined to vacate a district court’s ruling at the request of the parties after they reached a settlement of their trademark dispute. In Reserve Media, Inc. v. Efficient Frontiers, Inc., Efficient Frontiers alleged that Reserve Media, a restaurant technology startup, infringed its trademarks.  After the parties failed to resolve their dispute, Reserve Media filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment of noninfringement.  Efficient Frontiers responded with a counterclaim for trademark infringement and unfair competition. The Central District of California granted Reserve Media’s motions for summary judgment, holding   Read More »

Posted in IP and Technology Litigation, Trademark Litigation | Tagged ,

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Webcast Title Using Trademarks of Another Deemed Nominative Fair Use

By Robert A. Clarke and David G. Barker The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the title of a webcast, which included two trademarks belonging to another party, constituted nominative fair use, which protected the defendants from trademark infringement claims. The plaintiff in Applied Underwriters v. Lichtenegger offers workers’ compensation insurance to employers through its EquityComp program.  Applied Underwriters owns federally registered trademarks for “Applied Underwriters” and “EquityComp.”  Defendants published a webcast critiquing EquityComp’s services, entitled “Applied Underwriters’ EquityComp® Program: Like it, Leave it, or Let it be?”  Applied Underwriters sued defendants for trademark infringement for including the   Read More »

Posted in IP and Technology Litigation, Trademark Litigation | Tagged , ,

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