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Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Blog

California infringement litigation disputes ‘comic-con’ use

The name of a business helps California consumers identify the source of products or services they like. Some people or companies want to cash in on a business's success by muscling in on that name or trademark. Trademark infringement litigation often occurs when individuals or businesses offering like products also have the same or similar names.

What may have started out as a quirky gathering of comic book fans has evolved into a well-known West Coast event. Comic-Con in San Diego has attracted comic book lovers nationwide and the celebrities who bring those characters to life on TV and in films. Devoted fans circulate the convention often dressed like their favorite comic-book characters.

California headphone maker Beats hit by mid-sale patent suit

California businesses can reduce risks of infringement claims long before a product is available to the public. You don't want another business making profits off your company's patents, so it's wise to make sure you aren't poaching off anyone else's intellectual property. Remaining blissfully unaware of a competitor's patent won't help – purposeful or accidental ignorance is not a defense.

A new lawsuit against California-based Beats Electronics LLC by home entertainment retailer Bose Corporation mentions several patent infringement allegations. What you don't see in reports is a time line for Beats alleged infringement upon Bose technology patents for noise-control headphones. The lawsuit mentions the patents in the new Bose QuietComfort20 headphones were also employed in Beats Studio Wireless and Beats Studio headphones.

California court helping Lionsgate find 'Expendables 3' pirates

Filmmaker Lionsgate has been in damage control mode since the July release of a high-quality copy of "The Expendables 3" through online torrent websites. Lionsgate raced to court requesting a temporary restraining order to force the half dozen torrent sites, including and, to halt the unreleased movie's distribution. The film reportedly was downloaded globally over 2 million times -- more than eight percent of the movie downloads were from Los Angeles.

A temporary restraining order was approved by a California judge against the unidentified torrent site operators, who apparently spurned demands to pull "The Expendables 3" off their sites. The order prohibits site operators from distributing the film and transferring site registrations. Lionsgate also was given the go ahead to make contact with the defendants' financial and advertising providers.

Comedian turns to fans to fund copyright infringement defense

A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed the effect of patent trolls on innovation. Patent trolls are individuals or companies that scoop up patents and threaten legal actions against patent users, "trolling" for licensing agreements or judgments. Patent trolls have been criticized for contributing to a 60 percent surge in patent claims since the beginning of the century.

Adam Carolla is familiar to Los Angeles fans as an entertainer, but the comedian isn't kidding around about being named in a copyright infringement lawsuit. The intellectual property lawsuit claimed podcasters like Carolla and broadcasters NBC, CBS and Fox infringed upon a 1996 patent owned by Personal Audio. The patent allegedly covers all podcasting.

Intellectual property cases disputes ‘Jersey Boys’ authorship

Los Angeles authors have several exclusive rights to the works they create including rights to copy, distribute and make derivatives. Intellectual property protection also gives authors the flexibility to sell, buy, gift or license the use of a copyright. Rules applicable to author collaborations are being tested in a federal case over the origins of the book that spawned the Broadway musical and 2014 film "Jersey Boys."

A widow claims her husband was the co-author of an unpublished book about members of the Four Seasons, the inspiration for "Jersey Boys." The late attorney was also a freelance writer who chronicled the group's history. Thomas Gaetano DeVito, an original member of the band and the named defendant, contacted the writer.

Convicted California economic espionage defendant sentenced

A secret loses its mystery once it's told. For businesses, the value of a trade secret depends upon how well confidential information is protected. Trade secret leaks put companies and, ultimately, the nation's economy, at great financial risk and gives competitors an unfair advantage.

California now has the distinction of having the first ever jury trial to convict defendants of economic espionage. In fact, fewer than two dozen people in the U.S. have ever been convicted of the crime since the 1996 passage of the Economic Espionage Act. The defendants, a former California businessman and an ex-DuPont engineer, were found guilty in March.

Music rights claim: Katy Perry song tainted Christian rap tune

Copyright laws protect California authors. Authors include, but are not limited to, the creators of literary works as well as art, television shows, plays, movies and music. Laws cover music rights to a song and recordings of that song.

A work must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office for an author to exercise the right to file a copyright infringement lawsuit. A songwriter has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, modify and publicly perform a song. People other than an author are allowed to do these things, too, but only with the copyright holder’s permission.

Legislation proposes trade secret civil claims at federal level

The former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office claims some intellectual property legislation is weak. The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 is a federal law that criminalizes trade secret violations. The law does not provide for civil actions against parties, like ex-employees who steal former employers' intellectual recipes and use them to compete with theft victims.

Whether businesses can file civil claims over trade secret disputes comes down to a state level. The California Uniform Trade Secrets Act provides civil protections, as long as companies treat trade secrets like true secrets. Clear barriers must be set up to secure business data, whether a secret involves research and development or customer information.

'Redskins' may cost team intellectual property protection

"What's in a name?" has a very different meaning for California fans of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet than it does to U.S. Patent Office officials. However, the question remained the same as the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board considered words identifying a professional football team. This isn't the first time the board stripped the Washington Redskins of its trademarks for using a word increasingly perceived as offensive.

The board's 1999 ruling to cancel the team's federal trademarks was overturned on appeal in 2003 for several reasons, including "insufficient evidence" that the name "Redskins" was disparaging when trademarks were issued. Three years later, a new case with different Native American plaintiffs was filed. This time, the evidence was considerable.

Hershey trademark suit alleges pot shops capitalize on candy

A Los Angeles company does not have to steal a recipe, ingredient for ingredient, to be in legal trouble for selling a product similar to one manufactured by another business. Intellectual property law protections reach far beyond duplicating someone else's product or service. The name of a product and the way it is marketed can violate laws.

A trademark is a product or service identifier and an outward sign that gives a first or lasting impression of the quality of a brand and company. Dilution is a legal term used to describe the "tarnishing" of a business's image in the minds of consumers. The Hershey Company recently filed trademark infringement lawsuits against two companies, one in each of the states where recreational marijuana use is legal.