Posts Tagged ‘Renee Dial’

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By Rene Dial

What a week in the world of intellectual property protection!

Okay I am trying to figure this one out.  Legislation is/was being pushed through with regard to SOPA and PIPA.  Read Danie Roy’s article here.  Then a couple of days after Wikipedia, Craig’s List, Google, and a bunch of other sites were down in protest to SOPA and PIPA the government shows that they do have the power to stop online piracy overseas. On Thursday the US Justice Department and FBI shut down Hong Kong based company Megaupload, seized $50 million in assets, and begun extradition proceedings in New Zealand for the company founder according to Robot6.comicbookresources.com.

Let me get this right the government has the ability to shut down a site for alleged copyright infringements, freeze assets, extradite those involved from other countries but yet we need SOPA and PIPA to allow us to basically do what was just done to Megaupload.  Not sure about you but how about we utilize the laws we already have in place instead of enacting new broader legislation.

To be honest I never heard of Megaupload before this hit the news.  I am one of those guys that believes in paying the artist so that the artist can continue to put out music or movies that I love.  A lot of the problems with the industry now is getting the product to the masses in a cheaper and more efficient way.  The music industry has done a great job but movies are a different story.  A person can go to a Redbox and rent a movie for a dollar but if they want to stream the movie from a website or cable provider the provider wants somewhere between $5 to $7 to stream the same movie and they do not have to deal with inventory or with maintenance of a box somewhere. Okay I will stop my rant and get back to Megaupload.

According to ABCnews.go.com the indictment alleges that Megaupload caused a half-billion dollars in copyright losses.  A copy of the indictment can be found at onlinewsj.com.  As this is a criminal indictment I am curious to see how this plays out and if the hearings will occupy the news stations as some other well known criminal trials have in the past.  On ABC.com the article had a quote that was placed on Megaupload before the site was taken down. “Ira P. Rothken, a lawyer for Megaupload in Novato, Calif., said “the allegations do not appear to have support in the law, and the company is going to vigorously defend against them.”"  Something tells me that they really do not have a choice but to vigorously defend themselves as they are facing criminal not civil charges.

Have a great weekend!

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By Rene Dial

It never ceases to amaze me how often we hear of lawsuits over comic book characters once the studio decides to turn it into a movie. Most recently the creator of Ghost Rider lost in court to Marvel Entertainment in a copyright lawsuit that was filed in 2007.

Not long ago I wrote an article dealing with the same subject with regard to the Avengers and the X-Men.  The family of Jack Kirby filed suit to terminate copyright grants to Marvel.  The ending in both cases was that the characters were created as works for hire belonging to the employer.  Since this subject keeps popping up I think we should have a better understanding of what a work for hire is.

A “work for hire” defined under Section 101 of the Copyright Law is

  1. a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment

or

  1.  a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a

collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as

a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional

text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties

expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall

be considered a work made for hire. For the purpose of the foregoing sentence,

a “supplementary work” is a work prepared for a publication as a secondary

adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing,

concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting

in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations,

maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer

material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes; and an “instructional

text” is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication

and intended to be used in systematic instructional activities.

What it boils down to is unless you have an agreement stating otherwise and someone requests and pays you for creating a work of art such as a comic book character there is a pretty good chance that the person that hired and paid you owns your creation.  I feel for artists that create these awesome characters.  Out of the hundreds if not thousands of characters they create one sticks and becomes famous and the creator gets their agreed upon paycheck while the studio makes millions if not billions of dollars.  The good is that the artist gets paid to do what they love and create while the employer foots the bill.  Bad news is they do not own their creations and have no control over the future of their creation or profits.  These artists need to take a lesson from photographers because you hire them to take pictures and somehow they still charge you for the copyright to the pictures you paid them to take!

Have  a great weekend!

 

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By Rene Dial

I have heard a lot of on the edge lawsuits before but I believe this one has jumped over the edge and landed on its head.  According to the Guardian.co.uk, Louis Vuitton filed a federal trademark suit against Warner Bros over the line in the Hangover II “careful, that is a Louis Vuitton.”  To be honest I saw the movie, my brother and brother in law saw the movie and at no point in time have I heard them or any of my friends use that tag line.  To give a little background, our group of friends, quote movie tag lines a lot.  So much that it can become quite annoying at times.  The main comment and the funniest and most disturbing parts of the movie is trying to figure out what the monkey is playing with towards the beginning.  I will spare you and not go into details.

I was able to locate a copy of the complaint at paidcontent.org.

One of the first allegations that jumps out is Louis Vuitton’s claim that they did not approve Warner Bros’ use of any products bearing the LVM marks or any products bearing knock-off monograms.  It is a scary thought to think that every time someone wears a pair of jeans, shoes, socks, or virtually every item used in life then used in a movie the company can be sued because the item was not approved prior to the movie.

Louis Vuitton can make an argument that Warner Bros’ directly used the name of the bag in the movie.  If the entire movie was about a Louis Vuitton bag and it was the notoriety of the bag that drew crowds to the theater to see the movie and Warner Bros’ profited by their use of the mark we would have a different situation.  This is not the case here.  The mention of the bag is no more than a parody.  Are they making fun of the bag that it is so delicate and expensive or are they making fun of the character by showcasing his eccentric character.

Louis Vuitton’s fight is with Diophy not Warner Bros’. If anything Louis Vuitton should have paid to have their bag featured as a tag line in the movie or have Warner Bros’ buy a LV bag to compensate them for the lost profits of the one bag.  That kind of advertising is expensive.  Look at all of the advertising that they are getting by filing this lawsuit albeit bad advertising but still advertisement.  Makes you wonder if hiring an attorney, filing a complaint for around $400.00, and making a fuss gets you hundred of thousands of dollars in advertising?

Have a safe and happy New Year and let’s make 2012 the best year ever.

Be safe tonight!!

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By Rene Dial

While dining at my favorite lunchtime eatery (the food court at the mall) I looked down at the paper cup and saw three marks that had the little circle R and TM symbols indentifying the products as registered trademarks.  First I was surprised that the USPTO allowed the word “Compostable” to be trademarked, then I noticed the “ecotainer” mark, then the sustainable Forestry Initiative certification.

I hate using Styrofoam cups so the marks really caught my interest.  I have always heard that even paper cups contain a plastic coating that makes it no better than a Styrofoam cup when it comes to its ability to break down in the environment.  Anyway, I went to the manufacturer’s website to see what they are claiming.

The first claim is that the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s (SFI) guidelines for management and harvesting are that “No trees from old-growth or endangered forests are used.”  Sounds great but the law student in me automatically thinks, what is qualified as “old-growth,” and what is an “endangered forest.”  Of course we, I guess I mean I, could spend hours going over these definitions but I will save you from the pain.  We will take their word that it is a good thing and my understanding is that SFI is a doing a great job promoting sustainable forest management.

The next claim is that the plastic is a biopolymer not polyethylene.  A biopolymer is produced by living organisms such as plant cellulose.  It would stand to reason that if it is naturally occurring that it will break down in the environment more easily that polyethylene.

Well I learned a few things just by looking at a cup.  I always heard that disposable paper cups were just as bad as styrofoam cups but now I know better.

Have a great weekend!

 

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By Rene Dial

In my last few posts we looked into the Energystar, Recycling, and various free range certification marks.  Today the main focus will be green washing.  Green washing is the misleading marketing that projects an image the products are environmentally friendly.  One of my favorite green washing techniques is “from renewable resources” but we will discuss that next week.

There are a number of green washing suits over the last few years.  Fiji water was sued over its claim that they were a carbon negative company,  SC Johnson was sued over their Greenlist logo, and recently California filed a lawsuit against three companies that claimed that their plastic bottles are biodegradable.

The suit against Fiji Water is over their claim that Fiji is “carbon-negative.”  Fiji claims to offset their emissions by 120%.  How can a company be carbon negative you say?  Fiji is basically giving themselves credit for carbon reductions in the future. Motherjones.com goes on to say “The water is taken from a Fijian aquifier, bottled in a diesel-fueled factory in plastic shipped from China, and then shipped over the ocean to countries around the world.”  To Fiji’s credit the company is saying that they have planted over 250 acres of trees to help offset their carbon emissions. “ As the first net carbon-negative product in its industry, FIJI Water is reducing carbon emissions across the product’s entire lifecycle and offsetting at least 120% of remaining emissions through a rainforest restoration project in the Fiji Islands.”

Back in June of this year SC Johnson settled a lawsuit over their Greenlist logo.  The Greenlist logo is an internal SC Johnson standard meaning that SC Johnson decides which products receive their Greenlist Logo.  No self dealing there.  According to the press release the suit was brought in federal court that the Greenlist logo is an internal certification instead of a third party rated product and that the mark misleads consumers to believe that the product contained environmentally friendly ingredients. According to brandgeek.net the complaint states “Greenlist is a rating system that promotes the use of environmentally responsible ingredients” . . . and,” . . . conveys to consumers that Windex has been subjected to a neutral third party’s testing regime that had determined that Windex is environmentally friendly.”

The last case and most recent green washing suit was filed by the state of California against ENSO Plastics, Balance Water, and Aquamantra.  The three companies claim that their water bottles are 100% biodegradable.  Of course every company can claim this it may just take thousands of years for the bottle to degrade, however, this is not the claim.  The claim is that the bottle contains a formulated microbial additive that breaks the bottle down in less than five years when in fact it does not.  To add more insult to injury the microbe is considered a contaminant by post consumer plastic recyclers and removed therefore is not recyclable.  To simplify the accusations the bottles are not recyclable and do not biodegrade any faster than standard plastic bottles.

As companies continue their attempts to attract green consumers we are either going to see more deception or see companies actually make an attempt to live up to the green standards they claim to follow.

Have a great weekend!

 

 


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