98 episodes

In The Briefing by the IP Law Blog, intellectual property attorney Scott Hervey and his guests discuss current IP issues related to trademark, copyright, and entertainment, as well as IP litigation and intellectual property in the news.

The Briefing by the IP Law Blog Weintraub Tobin

    • Business
    • 4.2 • 5 Ratings

In The Briefing by the IP Law Blog, intellectual property attorney Scott Hervey and his guests discuss current IP issues related to trademark, copyright, and entertainment, as well as IP litigation and intellectual property in the news.

    Writers, Actors, AI: The AI Centric Changes to the WGA and SAG Agreements

    Writers, Actors, AI: The AI Centric Changes to the WGA and SAG Agreements

    Delve into the new WGA and SAG contract provisions relating to AI. Scott Hervey and Jamie Lincenberg tackle the terms and changes in this installment of "The Briefing" by Weintraub Tobin.



    Watch this episode on the Weintraub YouTube channel here.





    Show Notes:

    Scott

    AI ended up being a bigger than expected part in the writers' and actors' strikes. What exactly are the new WGA and SAG contract provisions relating to AI? I'm Scott Hervey from Weintraub Tobin, and today, I'm joined by my colleague Jamie Lincenberg. We are going to talk about the AI terms and the 2023 changes to the WGA and SAG MBA on this installment of "The Briefing" by Weintraub Tobin.



    Jamie, welcome back to "The Briefing."



    Jamie

    Thanks. It's good to be back. Looking forward to getting into this topic with you.



    Scott

    Yeah. So, let's dive right in. So, let's first talk about the changes to the Writers Guild MBA related to AI. I think the most logical place to start is with how the WJ defines AI. So the term generative artificial intelligence, or let's call it GAI, because we don't have enough acronyms, let's call it GAI. And that generally refers to a subset of AI that produces content based upon learned patterns like Chat GPT, DALL-E, and Llama, and it does not include traditional AI technologies such as those used in computer-generated imagery like CGI and visual effects.



    Jamie

    Scott, the WGA terms say that GAI cannot be a writer or professional writer as defined in the MBA because it's not a person, and therefore, materials produced by GAI should not be considered literary material under any MBA. This is important because the fact that GAI output can't be considered literary material has a direct impact on a writer's credit and compensation.



    Scott

    Yeah, that's right. While a producer can provide a writer with GAI output and instruct the writer to use it as the basis for writing a story or a script, that GAI output cannot be considered assigned or source material for the purpose of determining compensation or writing credit, and it can't be used to disqualify a writer from that writer's eligibility for separated rights.



    Jamie

    While writers can use GAI in the process of preparing literary material, for example, a screenplay with consent of the company, a company may not require that a writer do so as a condition of employment. Material created by writers who elect to use GAI should be considered literary material as opposed to material produced by GAI.



    Scott

    That's right, but given the issues surrounding the protectability of GAI output and the requirements that must be satisfied when registering a work that includes GAI output with a copyright office, it's not clear to me why a producer would want a writer to incorporate GAI output into any literary material. The WGA terms do acknowledge that producers can establish their own policies with respect to the use of GAI that writers will be required to adhere to, and companies can reject the use of GAI, including when that use could threaten the copyrightability or the exploitation of the work.



    Jamie

    We should also talk about the 2023 changes to the SAG Basic Agreement related to AI. Those revisions seem to be a bit more involved.



    Scott

    Yeah, they are. I would agree with you there. So, the 2023 changes in the SAG Basic Agreement, they really address three different types of digital replicas. The first is an employment-based digital replica. The second is an independently created digital replica. And then the third is called a synthetic performer.

    • 15 min
    The Briefing: Tag, You're Sued: Graffiti Artists Sue Over Use of Their Tags

    The Briefing: Tag, You're Sued: Graffiti Artists Sue Over Use of Their Tags

    Graffiti artists Nekst and Bates have filed a lawsuit against Guess and Macy’s for incorporating their tags in various articles of clothing. Scott Hervey and James Kachmar discuss this case in the next installment of "The Briefing."



    Watch this episode on the Weintraub YouTube channel here.





    Show Notes:

    Scott:

    This case is a head-scratcher. Graffiti artists Nekst and Bates have filed the lawsuit against Guess and Macy's for incorporating their tags in various articles of clothing manufactured by Guess and sold by Macy's. I'm Scott Hervey from Weintraub Tobin, and I'm joined today by my partner, James Kachmar. We are going to talk about this lawsuit on the next installment of “The Briefing” by Weintraub Tobin. James, welcome back to “The Briefing.”



    James:

    Thanks, Scott.



    Scott:

    So it seems that Guess manufactured various clothing items that incorporated the tags of graffiti artists Nekst and Bates, and those pieces of clothing were then sold by Macy's. Now, a tag, in the parlance of street art, graffiti art, is a design element that reflects, among other things, the artist's elaborately expressed signature or name. The plaintiffs contend that these tags are the primary calling cards and source identifiers of their artwork and, well, themselves.



    James:

    That's right, Scott. The plaintiffs in this case bring a number of claims in the complaint, including a false endorsement claim under the Lanham Act, a right of publicity claim under California law, and a copyright infringement claim. Let's talk first about the Lanham Act claim.



    Scott:

    Sure. So that's section 43A of the Lanham Act, and that imposes civil liability on any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin or false or misleading description of fact or false or misleading representation of fact which is likely to deceive consumers. As to the affiliation, connection, association, sponsorship, or approval of another person's goods or services, courts have held that a person's physical likeness, voice, or other unique or distinguishing characteristic, such as a signature, constitutes a symbol or device as specified in that section.



    James:

    That's right, Scott. The mere use of a celebrity's image or likeness is not ordinarily actionable. But using the celebrity's image or likeness to suggest sponsorship or approval could constitute false endorsement where the celebrity hasn't, in fact, given their endorsement. A false endorsement claim must also be something that is likely to confuse consumers or must lead them to thinking that the celebrity endorsed a product or brand when, in fact, they actually have not.



    Scott:

    That's right, James. The complaint alleges that Guess falsely used artwork reflecting artists' names and signatures on apparel, creating the false impression that the artists endorsed Guess and Macy's. Now, we can't show you the pictures of the apparel on the podcast, but it's pretty blatant. The plaintiffs argue that the use of the artist's name and signature is designed to create and does, in fact, create the false and deceptive commercial impression that these artists and their products are somehow associated with or somehow endorse the Guess merchandise.



     



    James:

    So, Scott, I suppose that Guess may try to argue that a tag is not a symbol device or any of the other enumerated items in section 43A.

    • 6 min
    Nirvana Stuck in Lawsuit Over “Nevermind” Album Cover

    Nirvana Stuck in Lawsuit Over “Nevermind” Album Cover

    As James Kachmar previously wrote on the IP Law Blog, the man who was photographed as a naked baby in 1991 for Nirvana's iconic "Nevermind" album cover is now suing the band for distributing child pornography. Scott Hervey and James discuss the Ninth Circuit's opinion on the case in this episode of The Briefing.



    Watch this episode on the Weintraub YouTube channel here.





    Show Notes:

    James:

    In 1991, the grunge band Nirvana was one of the most popular musical acts in the United States with its anthem “Smells like Teen Spirit”, which was featured on its album Nevermind. Many will remember the cover of that album, which featured a naked baby swimming underwater and reaching for a dollar bill on a fishing hook. Three months after its release, Nevermind rose to the top of the Billboard 200 rankings and since then has sold over 30 million copies. The picture on the album was licensed for use on other merchandise, such as t-shirts, and was also the subject of various parodies. Now, 30 years later, Nirvana, its surviving members, and its record companies face a civil lawsuit for allegedly distributing child pornography by the now-grown man who was depicted on the album cover as a baby. I am James Kachmar from Weintraub Tobin, and I am joining Scott Hervey from Weintraub Tobin to talk about this case on the next installment of “The Briefing.”



    Scott:

    James, welcome back to The Briefing. This case, the case of Elden versus Nirvana, has been on my mind since I read your excellent article on the case. Can you give us some background?



    James:

    Sure. Scott, the baby in that photo, is now a gentleman. His name is Spencer Elden, and he was four months old at the time the photograph was taken. He turned 18 in 2009 12 years later in 2021, at the age of 30, he filed a lawsuit, and after two rounds of amended complaints, filed a second amended complaint in January 2022. Mr. Elden asserts a single claim against the defendants for a violation of 18 USC section 22 55, which allows victims of child pornography to bring a civil cause of action for their injuries.



    Scott:

    And, James, what is the nature of Mr. Elden's complaint? What's it based on? What is it based on?



    James:

    Mr. Elden's complaint alleges that the cover of Nevermind depicting him in the nude constitutes child pornography and that the defendants, quote, knowingly possessed, transported, reproduced, advertised, promoted, presented, distributed, provided, and obtained, end quote, this alleged child pornography depicting him. He further alleges that the image has been reproduced and redistributed during the ten years preceding his lawsuit, and since then, pointing out that Nevermind had been rereleased in September 2021, claimed that he had suffered personal injury as a result of the ongoing violations of section 22 55.



    Scott:

    So initially, the defendants moved to dismiss Mr. Elden's complaint, arguing that it was barred by the applicable tenure statute of limitations for such claims. The district court agreed with the defendants and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. Mr. Elden appealed that dismissal to the 9th Circuit. And what happened on appeal, James?



    James:

    Well, Scott, just days before Christmas last year, the 9th Circuit issued its opinion in Elden versus Nirvana, LLC, and reversed the dismissal of his claims. Importantly, the 9th Circuit, in its decision, did not decide whether the album cover, in fact, constituted child pornography. Rather, it only decided whether his claims were timely. The issue of whether the album cover constitutes child p...

    • 12 min
    Brandy Melville v Redbubble: Navigating Contributory Infringement

    Brandy Melville v Redbubble: Navigating Contributory Infringement

    Brandy Melville has asked the Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit's decision in its dispute with Redbubble. Scott Hervey and Jamie Lincenberg discuss this case on this episode of The Briefing.



    Watch this episode on the Weintraub YouTube channel here.



     





    Show Notes:

    Jamie:

    This past summer, we analyzed the willful blindness doctrine, which was highlighted by the 9th Circuit's decision in the case of Redbubble, Inc. Versus Y.Y.G.M. doing business as Brandy Melville. The 9th Circuit in that case refused to hold Redbubble liable for contributory infringement because Redbubble didn't know, or have reason to know of specific incidents of infringement by its users. The matter seems settled, but Brandy Melville has asked the Supreme Court now to review the 9th Circuit's decision, which now causes a circuit split. I'm Jamie Lincenberg of Weintraub Tobin. We're going to talk about this update in the Brandy Melville Redbubble dispute on this installment of The Briefing.



    Scott:

    I'm Scott Hervey of Weintraub Tobin. Jamie, welcome back to The Briefing.



    Jamie:

    Thank you, Scott. It's great to be here again.



    Scott:

    So before we dive into Brandy Melville's petition for assert to the Supreme Court, can you take us back through the history of the case?



    Jamie:

    So this dispute began in 2018 when Brandy Melville, the popular clothing retailer, brought a trademark infringement suit against Redbubble, an online marketplace that allows independent artists to upload their own designs for on-demand printing on various items of merchandise. Brandy Melville had found products on Redbubble's website that infringed their company's trademarks.



    Scott:

    Initially, the district court had found Redbubble liable for both willful contributory counterfeiting of the marks and contributory infringement. Then, on appeal, the 9th Circuit appellate panel overturned much of the lower court's findings, holding that a party is liable for contributory infringement when it continues to supply its products to one whom it knows or has reason to know is engaging in trademark infringement. And a party only meets this standard if it is willfully blind to infringement. In short, willful blindness requires the defendant to have knowledge of specific infringers. General knowledge of infringement on the platform is not enough.



    Jamie:

    This decision for the first time defined the 9th Circuit's legal standard for contributory liability, and it really heightened the hurdle for brand owners to establish contributory infringement. Now, six months later, Brandy Melville argues that the appellate court was wrong in its holding and has asked the Supreme Court to review the 9th Circus decision that liability for user-submitted trademark infringement only stands when there's specific knowledge of the infringement.



    Scott:

    Brandy Melville argues in its petition for rid of Cert. That the 9th Circuit has adopted an erroneously narrow view of such liability and points to the Second Circuit and the 10th Circuit, where once a defendant knows or has reason to know that it is assisting in trademark infringement, it has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to stop it? The attorneys for Brandy Melville argue that the 9th Circuit's decision has no basis in background principles of common law and effectively flips the burden of ensuring compliance with the law from the defendants to the plaintiffs. In its writ for Cert. Brandy Melville argues that the issue is whether the defendant must know or have reason to know to trigger such liability. In particular,

    • 8 min
    Ninth Circuit Pulls Back Rogers Test in Light of Jack Daniels Decision

    Ninth Circuit Pulls Back Rogers Test in Light of Jack Daniels Decision

    As Scott Hervey previously wrote on the IP Law Blog, the holding in the Supreme Court case Jack Daniels Properties v. VIP Products limits the applicability of the Rogers test. Scott and Jamie Lincenberg talk about this case on this episode of The Briefing.



    Watch this episode on the Weintraub YouTube channel here.







    Cases Discussed:



    * Jack Daniels Properties v. VIP Products

    * Rogers v. Grimaldi

    * Punch Bowl v. AJ Press

    * 20th Century Fox Television v. Empire Distribution, Inc.



    Show Notes:

    Scott:

    The holding in Jack Daniels properties versus VIP products. The case of the infringing bad spaniel's dog toy limits the applicability of the Rogers test. A recent case in the 9th Circuit Punch bowl versus AJ press addressed the interplay between the Jack Daniels opinion and the Rogers test, and this case goes directly to the heart of Rogers versus Grimaldi. We are going to talk about this case and the future of the Rogers Test on this installment of the briefing by Weintraub Tobin. Thank you for joining us. I'm Scott Hervey from Weintraub Tobin, and I'm joined by my colleague Jamie Lincenberg. Jamie, welcome back to The Briefing.



    Jamie:

    Thanks, Scott. It's good to be back after a little bit of a hiatus.



    Scott:

    Yeah, good to have you back. So, before we get into the case itself, I think we should set the stage and talk a little bit about both the Rogers test from Rogers versus Grimaldi and the Jack Daniels case.



    Jamie:

    That sounds good. So, the Rogers test comes from the 1989 2nd Circuit case, Rogers versus Grimaldi. The case involved a lawsuit brought by Ginger Rogers concerning the film entitled Fred and Ginger, which was about two Italian cabaret performers whose act emulated the dance routines of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The question of that case was whether the creator of an expressive work, a work that enjoys First Amendment protection, could be liable under the Lanham Act, as well as state right of publicity laws for using a celebrity's name in the title of the work.



    Scott:

    The district court and the Second Circuit on appeal both said no and from that case, the Rogers test was created under the Rogers test. The use of a third-party mark in an expressive work does not violate the Lanham Act unless the title has no artistic relevance to the underlying work whatsoever or if it has some artistic relevance. It can't be expressly misleading as to the source or content of the work. Under the Rogers test, the first inquiry is whether the use of the third-party mark has some artistic irrelevance. The threshold for this test is extremely low. Basically, if the level of artistic relevance is more than nothing, this is satisfied. If there is a greater-than-nothing artistic relevance in the use of the third-party mark, then the next analysis is whether the use of the third-party mark explicitly misleads as to the source of content or the work. And the Rogers test has been widely adopted by other circuits, including California's 9th Circuit.



    Jamie:

    On June 8, 2023, the United States Supreme Court decided Jack Daniels Properties, Inc. Versus VIP products. This dispute involves a claim by Jack Daniels that the dog toy Bad Spaniels infringed a number of its trademarks at the district court and on appeal at the 9th Circuit, the issue was framed as whether this dog toy was an expressi...

    • 10 min
    It’s Not Yabba-Dabba-Delicious - TTAB Denies Color Mark for Post Fruity Pebbles!

    It’s Not Yabba-Dabba-Delicious - TTAB Denies Color Mark for Post Fruity Pebbles!

    Fruity Pebbles failed to attain a trademark for the various colors of its cereal. Scott Hervey and Jessica Marlow discuss the TTAB's decision to reject the trademark application on this episode of The Briefing.



    Watch this episode on the Weintraub YouTube channel here.



     







    Show Notes:



    Scott:

    A trademark examiner refused to register a trademark for the various colors that make up the colors of Fruity Pebbles Cereal on the grounds that the proposed color mark fails to function as a trademark. The applicant, Post Foods, could not stomach the refusal, and it appealed it to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. On January 4, 2024, the TTAB upheld the examiner's refusal. This case exemplifies the difficulty of securing a color trademark. And there's some other takeaways, important takeaways, too.



    We're going to discuss this on this next installment of The Briefing by Weintraub Tobin. Welcome back to The Briefing. I'm Scott Hervey of Weintraub Tobin, and today, I'm joined by my law partner, Jessica Marlow. Jessica, welcome back to The Briefing.



    Jessica:

    Thank you. Happy to be back.



    Scott:

    So, Jessica, I know that you're a fan of fruity pebbles, right?



    Jessica:

    I am.



    Scott:

    Okay.



    Jessica:

    At all ages.



    Scott:

    Yeah, this case is right up your alley. So Post Foods applied to register a trademark for the various colors that make up the colors of Fruity Pebble Cereal. Understanding just how difficult it would be to register the color mark, the application included a declaration from the applicant's counsel supporting the two-f claim, which is a claim of acquired distinctiveness and allegations of long use, extensive advertising and, unsolicited media coverage and significant product sales. Supporting this claim of acquired distinctiveness. The examining attorney refused to register the mark because it consisted of a nondistinctive product design or nondistinctive features of a product design that are not registerable on the principal register without sufficient proof of acquired distinctiveness. And while the applicant's two-f claim and all the evidence that the applicant submitted in support of the two-f claim was an attempt of establishing acquired distinctiveness, the trademark examiner said that the section two-f claim showing was insufficient to demonstrate acquired distinctiveness.



    Jessica:

    Right. And in response to the office actions, the applicant submitted additional evidence of the mark's acquired distinctiveness, including the results of a consumer survey, long use of the mark, significant advertising expenditures and sales revenue, extensive media coverage, and customer statements. Despite all of this, the examiner found the additional evidence insufficient to show acquired distinctiveness and continued to refuse registration on the grounds that the mark failed to function as a trademark. Post appealed this refusal to the TTAB.



    Scott:

    Now, color marks are never inherently distinctive when used on products or on product designs. Where a color mark is not functional, it may be registered on the principal register if it is shown to have acquired distinctiveness. The TTAB noted that the burden of proving that a color mark has acquired distinctiveness is substantial there are six factors that are considered in determining whether a color mark has acquired distinctiveness, and those six factors are the association of the trade dress with a particular source by actual purchasers,

    • 9 min

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
5 Ratings

5 Ratings

Top Podcasts In Business

Ramsey Network
NerdWallet Personal Finance
Her First $100K
Money News Network
NPR
Dan Fleyshman

You Might Also Like

The Wall Street Journal & Gimlet
Jaeden Schafer & Jamie McCauley
The Wall Street Journal
Bloomberg Law
NPR
The New York Times