Author: Sheba Sheikh

Tiffany’s blue in clash over Louboutin’s red

Tiffany’s, the top-end bangles-retailer, apparently feels blue enough to think out of and about its signature box and how it might be crushed in the trademark clash with Yves Saint Laurent over Christian Louboutin and his red-soled footwear. Yes, of course, this is intellectual property combat of more than passing interest to entertainment law practitioners — not just because their clients cache and adore these upscale baubles but also because the same big-spending crowd increasingly has ambitions to cash in, in the celebrity-named luxe goods markets.So, first, let’s note that Christian Louboutin has appealed his case Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent after U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s decision denying him an injunction and holding that the plaintiff’s red-sole trademark was likely invalid.  As reported in a previous post, the decision left many stunned given the extensive evidence indicating that the mark had acquired secondary meaning and would cause consumer confusion.  The appeal brief restates many of the arguments originally made for the injunction, but also seeks to find Marrero’s assessment of the law in error. Things got a little more interesting then as Tiffany joined the fray, concerned, of course, about its signature blue trademark. Tiffany’s filed an amicus curiae in the Southern District of New York.  As reported by Women’s Wear Daily, the difference between Tiffany’s blue-  and Louboutin’s red-sole-trademark is that one involves product packaging while the...

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Beyonce, choreographer tangle over dance

Though some have stepped up to copyright their moves and few have tip-toed into courts, with the expected differing results, noted choreographer  Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker appears unfazed by the infrequency of such cases and has decided to tango with pop diva Beyonce. The Belgian artist has sued the American superstar, asserting she plagiarized dance moves from two films, Rosas danst Rosas and Achterland, for the Beyonce Countdown music video. A comparative clip on YouTube (above) shows key sequences from both films and music video to highlight their similarities. As reported by Eriq Gardner for The Hollywood Reporter, Esq., the case presents an interesting opportunity to assess the degree to which choreography has received copyright protection in the United States. The U.S. Copyright Office says choreography can be submitted for registration so long as it is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which the work can be performed.”  This includes film or video. Data reported by THR, Esq., was gathered by the Register of Copyrights and shows that, in 2009, 545 of the 424,427 copyright registrations were for “Dramatic Works, Choreography, and Pantomimes.”  This was a 98% decline from a decade ago, underscoring Gardner’s view that Keersmaeker may be setting something of a legal “trend.” It works to the choreographer’s advantage that both dances are fixed in film, making it easier for a judge to potentially  assess...

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High court considers if Congress under treaty can restore copyrights for foreign works

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard arguments over Golan v. Holder (No. 10-545), a key copyright case — discussed in a previous post here — over Congress’s 1994 decision to restore protection to a vast body of foreign works that had already gone into in the public domain (audio included here). This matter stems from the U.S. signing of the Uruguay Round,  an attempt by American officials to align with the nation with international copyright system and bolster intellectual property protection globally. The case has attracted considerable media attention because of the names and works involved, including compositions by Dmitri Shostakovich and Igor Stravinsky,  art by Pablo Picasso and books by HG Wells and movies by Alfred Hitchcock. The academic world also sees a huge stake for itself in Golan, which, advocates have said, could increase costs and curb the availability of materials for study by students and teachers. To recap: Petitioners, as represented by Anthony Falzone of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society argued that Section 514 of the Uruguay treaty violates the copyright clause and the First Amendment (their brief is here).  Solicitor General Donald Verilli contended that Congress had the right to ratify the treaty and help U.S. works receive increased, global copyright protection. (The U.S. brief is here). Scrutinize the transcript of the oral arguments and the questions posed and it appears that the justices...

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A lawyer’s documentary brings topics to a boil

Lawyer and filmmaker Susan Saladoff appeared at Southwestern Law School this week for a viewing and discussion of her recently released HBO documentary Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served In an audience discussion, she shared why she stopped practicing law briefly to produce the film. Saladoff (shown at right) had spent 25 years in the civil justice system, working with Public Justice. Her experience in representing plaintiffs in claims of injury and negligence against corporations and individuals made her passionate about the issue of protecting the public’s access to the courts, she said.  She grew especially concerned over the public campaign launched in the media in the mid-1990s to promote what advocates called tort reform, and which, in her view, consisted of constant attacks on the civil justice system. Hot Coffee focuses on a 1994 New Mexico case that has become notorious among those who cry foul about “frivolous litigation,” as the now legendary lawsuit involved a contentiously sizable award against McDonald’s over a cup of its hot coffee. A jury awarded plaintiff Liebeck almost $3 million in damages for third-degree burns she suffered from that java spilled after its purchase at a McDonald’s drive-thru. The film aims to address what Saladoff sees as misconceptions about the facts of the case. And it goes on to tackle her concern that someone provide the public with information so citizens will act to...

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Breaking into music law? Here’s expert advice

A panel of distinguished experts in music law shared their experiences and offered counsel at Southwestern Law School this week to students who aim to practice in this specialty. Charles J. Biederman, author of the “Law and Business of Entertainment” (shown at right)  and board member of the Biederman Entertainment Law Institute, led the discussion with a series of questions and answers with Gary Fine, a music industry contracts professor, and David Helfant, CEO and president of Arpeggio Entertainment LLC.  Here’s a summary of some of their key, helpful points: Put yourself out there. With the intense competition in music law, the best thing aspirants can do is just “get in.”  Take a job — any job — that lets you meet and work with industry professionals; build relationships and network. Each introduction and each successfully executed task and encounter gets you closer to the top, advised the panelists, including Helfant (shown at right).  No practitioner, and especially student-novices, can adopt the notion, especially in the present rotten economy, that “I’m too good for this job.” Be Strategic. Cast a wide net, don’t just limit yourself to a specific area. Other areas of entertainment law, such as film, can intersect with music law. Student Memberships. The recording academy and bar associations — notably, the panelists said, the Beverly Hills Bar Association — provide a great way to meet other...

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The Biederman Blog is now ranked NUMBER ONE on Feedspot's Top 20 Entertainment Law blogs (May 2018). It is very exciting to top this list. We are extra proud of number six - Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Mr. Firemark graduated from Southwestern in 1992, and is a top entertainment blogger and webinar presenter in addition to being a world class entertainment attorney!

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