U.S. Cannabis Pioneers Face Chaotic Advertising Laws

Businesses preparing to market a new product nationally must follow the rules of trademark law as well as marketing and advertising claims under state and US laws when creating a trademark, advertising copy and copyright-registered packaging for the product. In cases where the product is illegal under some federal laws, but legal under some state and federal laws, marketing is complicated. This is particularly the case for cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) products. As an example, the USPTO allows patents for cannabis inventions but prohibits registering trademarks for cannabis and cannabis products. (more…)

Music Publishing Rights Dispute Throws Lady Marmalade Songwriter’s Royalties into a Black Box, a Lesson in Music Publishing

My mom gave me an AM radio with an earplug when I was 10. There I discovered summer pop music and the positive girl vibe of Lady Marmalade.  While Patti LaBelle’s 1974 earworm of a performance made Lady Marmalade famous, the lyrics and music were created by co-songwriters Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan. Nolan wrote numerous famous songs during the 1970s as a singer-songwriter, and co-writer with Crewe and other songwriters. Many of the songs, including Lady Marmalade and My Eyes Adored You, the Frankie Valli chart topper, were huge hits. (more…)

How the Smallest Detail Becomes the Biggest Pitfall in Trademark Applications

Filing a federal trademark application in the U.S. requires careful attention to a number of details, including obvious components, like the configuration of the mark and the nature of the goods and/or services on which it is being used or will be used. Of the numerous elements that go into the application, there are certain “routine” details that can be easily overlooked. One such “inconsequential” detail, if handled improperly, can doom a trademark application and any resulting registration. The culprit: designation of the mark’s owner. (more…)

Recovery of Fees and Costs in Copyright Litigation: Supreme Court Sets Limits

Costs recoverable by a prevailing party in a copyright infringement case are limited to the specific categories of costs allowed under the general federal status authorizing the award of costs by federal district courts. So says the U.S. Supreme Court in its unanimous decision in Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc. (March 4, 2019).

Oracle successfully sued Rimini Street for infringing Oracle’s copyrights. A jury awarded damages, and the district court awarded fees and costs, including a disputed $12.8 million for litigation expenses, such as expert witnesses, e-discovery, and jury consulting. The Ninth Circuit recognized that this award covered expenses not included within the general statute, but split with other circuit courts of appeal and held that the award was proper because Section 505 of the Copyright Act granted the district court the discretion to award “full costs” to a prevailing party in copyright cases. (more…)

The Lost Einsteins: Women Underrepresented Among U.S. Inventors

A new report issued by the USPTO points to an untapped segment of U.S. innovators – women. Released on February 11, “Progress and potential: a profile of women inventors on U.S. patents” outlines the trends and characteristics of women inventors named on U.S. patents over the last 40 years. The report shows a modest increase in the number of women inventors, but documents that women still make up a small minority of inventors and highlights the untapped potential of women to spur innovation. (more…)