California Intellectual Property Blog

49ers Quarterback Obtained Copyright Waivers for Video Games

By Mandour & Associates, APC on July 31, 2014

tattooSan Diego – The bicep tattoos on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be featured on his digital incarnation in the next “Madden” video game. The Biblical verses and religious references tattooed on the arms of Kaepernick’s virtual self will be featured on screen shots from the Electronic Arts game scheduled for an August 26th release.  <!–more–>

Kaepernick obtained copyright waivers from the two tattoo artists who designed and inked the tattoos on his skin to avoid running afoul of copyright law. This would be the most high-profile example of an NFL player taking the advice of his union when it comes to clearing tattoos. In this particular case, both the NFL Players Association and EA insisted that he obtain the permission to use the images in the game.

“Madden” producers say they would like to get the rights to the tattoos of other players in the future. In the past, Electronic Arts and other video game companies have been sued for re-creating tattoos in their products without the artists’ permission. However, the cases almost always settle.

In order for artwork to be copyrightable, it needs to have some form of originality and be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.”  Such a medium could be a canvas, film or audio. In the case of a custom tattoo designed by an artist, the individual’s skin becomes the canvas or medium.  Since tattoos tend to be derivative or other preexisting works, in the case the bible, at times the tattoo artist may not actually own the underlying copyright so the artist’s rights could be in question.

There was a recent similar lawsuit over the 2011 blockbuster “The Hangover Part II” in which a replica of Mike Tyson’s famous facial tattoo is inked on one of the characters’ foreheads. The artist who designed that Maori-inspired tattoo sued Warner Bros. Entertainment for copyright infringement since it did not get his permission to use the imaeg. The judge who presided over that case agreed with the artist that tattoos can be copyrighted.  So, it is not surprising that NFL officials are urging players to be proactive and protect themselves by securing the copyright waivers from the tattoo artists.

San Diego State Seeks “I Believe That We Will Win” Trademark

By Mandour & Associates, APC on July 21, 2014

basketballSan Diego – The chant adopted by the U.S. soccer team at the World Cup could soon start paying dividends for San Diego State University, which actually began using the trademark several years ago. The phrase, “I believe that we will win!” has been chanted during the school’s basketball games and has been sold on apparel. Recently, the school made the move to acquire the trademark to help prevent other similar uses. Read the rest »

Lenovo Files Patent for Wearable Technology Similar to Google Glass

By Mandour & Associates, APC on July 14, 2014

Glass-googleLos Angeles – Lenovo has filed a U.S. patent for a head-mounted wearable, which could potentially compete against the much-talked-about Google Glass. The patent is for wearable eyewear that has touch-based navigation, light-pump video-on-demand displays on dual screens, as well as a video and audio recorder. The displays are meant to give users “an augmented reality display” on the screen featured in their glasses. Read the rest »

Posted in: Patent Registration

Aereo Loses Supreme Court Copyright Battle to Networks’ Delight

By Mandour & Associates, APC on July 8, 2014

cableOrange County – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Aereo TV service, the start-up tech firm that distributes local television signals over the Internet, is a copyright infringement. The case, ABC v. Aereo, which has generated much controversy, culminated in a 6-3 decision this week will also mark the end of this small company. Aereo launched about two years ago as the cheaper option for consumers who are paying high prices for cable and satellite television. Read the rest »

Washington Redskins Trademark Cancelled, Held to be Disparaging

By Mandour & Associates, APC on July 1, 2014

Closeup of American Football on FieldLos Angeles – A recent ruling by the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that the NFL’s Washington Redskins nickname is “disparaging” will provide a shot in the arm for those who have been vocal advocates of changing the team’s name.  The ruling no doubt increases the financial and political pressure for a movement that has been gaining momentum over the last two years.  The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board voted 2-1 in support of the name change and even President Barack Obama has weighed in on the topic encouraging the team to consider changing the name. Read the rest »

Tesla Allows Others To Use Patent Portfolio

By Mandour & Associates, APC on June 26, 2014

teslaOrange County – In what has been hailed as a bold and unprecedented move, Tesla Motors is opening its patent portfolio in hopes of encouraging other automakers to create new electric vehicles. The company’s CEO, Elon Musk, said Tesla will not pursue patent lawsuits against anyone who wants to use its electric car technology “in good faith.” Musk says the “wall of patents” has been removed “in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.” Musk made the announcement at the Palo Alto-based company’s annual shareholder meeting this month. Read the rest »

Posted in: Patent Registration

Trademark Issued for Pi Symbol for Clothing Line Causes Uproar

By Mandour & Associates, APC on June 23, 2014

pi symbolLos Angeles – A Brooklyn artist and entrepreneur has trademarked the pi symbol to brand his line of t-shirts, tank tops and hats, angering many math geeks and clothing designers who use the symbol on a variety of objects and apparel. The artist, Paul Igrisano, claims that he sought a trademark for the symbol pi, with the period added, because he was trying to protect his trademark rights and business. Read the rest »

Apple Receives Patent on a Drop-proof iPhone

By Mandour & Associates, APC on June 16, 2014

iphone-appsOrange County – Apple is renowned for its forward thinking patents. Recently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company a patent for a special construction process that involves sapphire glass displays and LiquidMetal. The patent approval happened soon after Apple announced that it has exclusive rights to LiquidMetal’s unique alloy until 2015. LiquidMetal is a “bulk amorphous alloy” that looks like metal in liquid form, but moves like molten plastic. Despite its name it is not liquid at room temperature. So far, it’s been used to make items such as SIM card ejectors, military equipment and medical devices. It has still not been used in common consumer products. Read the rest »

Posted in: Patent Registration

Beastie Boys Win $1.7 Million in Copyright Infringement Case Against Monster

By Mandour & Associates, APC on June 11, 2014

HeadphonesSan Diego – The Beastie Boys recently prevailed in the copyright infringement case filed against Monster Beverage Corp for using the band’s songs in an online video without permission. The case was filed in Manhattan. Read the rest »

California Chrome’s Owners File to Trademark Horse’s Name

By Mandour & Associates, APC on June 3, 2014

HorseracingSan Diego – The owners of California Chrome, the horse that could potentially win the first Triple Crown in 36 years, have filed a trademark application for the horse’s name. California Chrome’s owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin along with their wives, who make up the horse’s ownership entity filed the trademark just two days before California Chrome won the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown. The owners are hoping to trademark the phrase on athletic apparel including shirts, pants, jackets, shoes, and hats. The filing states that gear with California Chrome’s name was first sold in April 2013. Read the rest »