fresh IP news


Good morning. Time for some IP news.

New seizures from Interpol

Operation in Our Sites” is an initiative that was originally launched by the US authorities, and joined by Europe in 2012, in the fight against trade of counterfeit products online. As part of this international operation, Europol has been able to seize a little over 30,500 domain names responsible for offering: pirated movies, illegal television streams, music, software, counterfeit pharmaceuticals… This operation also resulted in the arrest of three persons and in bank accounts being frozen.

You cannot cut an artist’s work to make watches

That is what a Danish court established in early December, after the artist Tal R presented a claim for copyright infringement against two creators who shared with him their plan to rip apart his painting (painting that they had bought a few years ago) to turn it into a limited watch collection. The discussion here revolves around the extension of the copyright of the author. Once a piece is sold, the owner is free to resell it or even destroy it. However, here, the Court considered that when cutting, reshaping and then introducing the work of art into a watch, what actually occurs is a transformation of the original work into a derivative work. For the time being, this is the interpretation given according to Danish laws by Danish Courts, but innovators from the rest of Europe beware!

Netflix is in trouble because of another documentary

Similarly to what we reported back in September regarding the Fyre Festival Documentary, Netflix is now facing a copyright claim for its documentary “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator”. Apparently, the documentary features old footage of Bikram from his early years in the US, footage that belongs to the Ghosh’s Yoga College and that was used without its authorization. The documentary has also, allegedly, used photos from the book “Calcutta Yoga” without authorization nor proper acknowledgment of the source. We will keep you updated with any news.

Torta de Barros vs. Torta del Casar

Today it is about Protected Designations of Origin (PDO). A little bit of background story: Torta del Casar is a PDO and refers to a Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk in the Extremadura region of Spain, that is only produced by 7 cheese factories from Casar de Cáceres in that region. The Regulatory Council of this DPO has been fighting against the use of the word “Torta” in any other cheese. Now, the Spanish Supreme Court, after hearing the case of Torta del Casar v. Torta de Barros on appeal, has spoken and stated that the Regulatory Council cannot impede other from using “torta”, as it is a generic term used to refer to all cheeses with this cake shape, not only to the ones from Casar de Cáceres. Take into account that this interpretation will be only binding from Spanish cheeses. The Regulatory Council might keep up with its battle in the rest of Europe.

Nirvana vs. Marc Jacobs

Back in November, the California federal court refused to dismiss the case filed by Nirvana against Marc Jacobs on grounds of unauthorized use of Nirvana’s famous smiley face graphic. Now, Marc Jacobs’ legal team is trying to cancel the infringement claims by arguing that:

  • Regarding the copyright infringement claim: the registration of the “X smiley face” is invalid and/or unenforceable. Why? Nirvana is, apparently, not the original creator of all the elements in this work.
  • Regarding trade mark infringement: there is no likelihood of confusion since the products are different enough, mainly because the t-shirt has its own distinctive mark by bearing the “MARC JACOBS” brand stamp.
  • They also claim “fair use” arguing that basically consumers of Nirvana’s t-shirt are not the same as the ones consuming Marc Jacobs’ fashion items. Therefore, Nirvana’s market is actually not affected by the alleged infringement.
  • Finally, Jacobs’ actually basing his defense on alleged prior knowledge of Jacobs’ plans by Courtney Love (one of the owners of Nirvana Llc.) based on the fact that they were in negotiations prior to the release and Love had then made no objections.

What are your thoughts? Nirvana? Marc Jacobs? Let us know.

That’s all we have for this week. See you next week for more news!

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