Disney. Inside Out. The Moodsters.

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Copyright Infringement.

copyrightHave you ever considered pitching a story idea to a big movie producer? If you have, you also have to think about ensuring that your concept doesn’t get stolen. Many times, an idea gets pitched, rejected and then later the producer uses a similar storyline.

Childhood development expert, Denise Daniels, co-founded the National Childhood Grief Institute which counsels children after tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.

In addition to National Childhood Grief Institute, Daniels created a children’s program called The Moodsters to help kids better manage their emotions. She pitched this idea to Disney-owned Pixar many times between the years of 2005 and 2009. Daniels states that there was an understanding that she and her team would be compensated in the event that the idea was used.

Fast forward to 2015, Disney launched the “Inside Out” animated program to explore children’s emotions through various characters representing different moods by using colors.

Daniels filed a lawsuit against Disney stating that her idea was used and she was not given credit or compensation.

Story Ideas.

According to Daniels’ attorney, Michael Geibelson, who writes that in The Moodsters “Each character is an animated, anthropomorphized figure representing a single emotion with a corresponding color, and specifically happiness (yellow), anger (red), sadness (blue), fear (green) and love (pink).”

In a statement to the press, a Disney spokesman said: “Inside Out was an original Pixar creation, and we look forward to vigorously defending against this lawsuit in court.”

A similar case was brought to court in March by Esplanade Pictures who claims that their writer, Gary L. Goldman, pitched Zootopia to Disney in 2000 and 2009, and was not compensated.

So, my advice to you is that if you are ready to pitch your idea to a producer, its best to hire an expert entertainment attorney to assist you before you have that first all-important meeting.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Wild Thing. Shoes. Ivanka Trump. Aquazzura Italia.

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Legal Battle.

Ivanka trumpControversy seems to follow the Trump name, whether it’s in Washington D.C. or the halls of the fashion industry in New York City.

This time it’s Ivanka Trump who is in the middle of a legal battle over the design of a shoe. Ivanka Trump’s clothing brand has been sued by an Italian footwear company, Aquazzura Italia, alleging that their shoe design was copied and sold under a different name. The suit was filed in June of 2016.

The lawsuit accused Ivanka Trump and her licensing partner, Marc Fisher, of plagiarizing a shoe design marketed under the name of “Wild Thing.” Aquazzura Italia claimed that the shoe in question, called the Hettie sandal, was identically copied, which included distinct details such as the shape, silhouette, fringe covering the toes, and tassel on the heel.

Since the filing of the suit, the lawyers for Ivanka Trump have been fighting to keep Ivanka from being deposed and filed a motion to prevent her testimony on grounds that Ivanka did not possess any “unique information” relating to the design of the shoe. Furthermore, they claimed “special circumstances,” arguing that her testimony would “distract” from her duties in the White house.

Sandals.

After almost a year of legal wrangling, on June 23rd judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled that Ivanka Trump must submit to a deposition. The ruling stipulates that the testimony must be limited to only two hours and held in Ivanka’s new residence, Washington, D.C. The judge also decreed that the testimony must take place before October 31st, 2017.

Judge Forrest acknowledged that Ivanka Trump divested herself from her fashion company in January, but was still the CEO at the time the lawsuit was filed.

The shoe in question is no longer listed on the Ivanka Trump website and the company and its attorneys have refused to comment on the recent ruling.

This isn’t the first lawsuit filed against Ivanka Trump’s fashion company. This past March her clothing brand was hit with a class-action filed on behalf of women’s clothing retailers throughout the state of California. The suit contends that her company unfairly benefits from her relationship to President Donald Trump. It points out that Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway, promoted Ivanka’s brand on an appearance on Fox News.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, as well as a restraining order barring the sales of Ivanka’s clothing line in the state of California.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Copyright. Supreme Court. Is Fashion protectable?

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Fashion. Copyright.

The Supreme Court ruled on copyright and fashion.  Can fashion be protected by copyright? This landmark copyright case will impact the fashion design industry for decades to come. This case began 10 years ago when Varsity Brands, Inc. sued Star Athletica, LLC for copyright infringement. Both companies supply uniforms and other accessories for sport related events. The lawsuit centered on a copyrighted two-dimensional stripe pattern and colors used on Varsity Brand cheerleading uniforms which they claimed Star Athletica infringed upon.

fashion. copyright.

fashion. copyright.

The case was originally heard by a federal  district court sitting in Memphis, TN in 2014, where Judge Robert Cleland ruled that the designs were utilitarian, and since utilitarian designs are not subject to copyright law, the case was dismissed.

Fashion.

Varsity Brands appealed the ruling and the case went to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, where the district court ruling was reversed in a 2 to 1 decision. Among other findings, the court found that the designs in question could be separated from the utilitarian aspects of the uniform, and that the designs could stand on their own separate from the cheerleading uniforms, thus eligible for copyright protection.

Is Fashion Protected by Copyright?

The case then made its way up to the Supreme Court, where finally, a ruling was announced this Wednesday. Varsity Brands came up victorious, once again.  In short,  Judge Thomas, who delivered the opinion of the Court, affirmed the decision of the Sixth Circuit  Court, holding that

“a  feature  incorporated  into  the  design  of  a  useful  article  is  eligible  for copyright  protection  only  if  the  feature  (1)  can  be  perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article and (2) would qualify as a protectable  pictorial,  graphic,  or  sculptural  work-either  on  its own  or  fixed  in  some  other  tangible  medium  of  expression if  it  were  imagined  separately  from  the  useful  article  into which  it  is  incorporated.”  The Court held that the test was satisfied in this case.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

 

 

Do you know if you are infringing on a copyright?

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Here are Three Tips to avoid breaking the law with Copyright Infringement:

Copyright infringement

Copyright Infringement

Legal Copyright Infringement is honestly an oxymoron- if it qualifies as Copyright Infringement, then it is, by definition, illegal. This being said sometimes it’s hard to know where the gray area of legal vs. illegal starts.

What is a Copyright?

A Copyright is an exclusive right granted to an artist or author, pursuant to Article 1, §8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, which protects any original work of art or authorship reduced to a tangible form.

What is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is a violation of that right; it is THEFT; it’s stealing.  Copyright infringement is using someone else’s copyright protected material without permission, without a license, or without that use falling within an exception, such as fair use or the public domain.

A lot of times, people don’t even realize that what they are doing is illegal, thinking what they are doing is harmless, with no thoughts to the potential consequences. For this reason, I have put together a list of 3 tips for judging whether what you are doing is copyright infringement or not…

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #1: If it does not belong to you, assume it belongs to someone else.

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #2
 If it belongs to someone else, assume you need permission or a license to use it.

Legal Copyright Infringement Tip #3 Be aware of ways you can inadvertently infringe someone’s copyright,

    1. Downloading music from the Internet,
    2. Photocopying portions of a book or articles from magazines,
    3. Duplicating testimonial  letters & inserting them in your media kit on web site,
    4. Inserting popular music into your video,
    5. Performing someone’s music in public,
    6. Reproducing a photograph,
    7. Allowing someone to download your copy of software without buying their own license

Until next time, THINK before you USE!

Copyright. Asset Protection.

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copyright puzzleWhether you write books, articles, web content, blogs, movies, shorts, screenplays, choreographic works, take pictures, or shoot videos—you should always be thinking how best to protect your copyrights, your business brand, and any creative content that you upload to the Internet.  Your creative content, your trademarks, your business collectively are your assets, and your kids’ future.  PROTECT them!

ASSET PROTECTION should be your #1 concern. If you don’t take care of your assets, whether through copyright registrationtrademark registrationpatent registration, contracts, or LLCs, trusts, offshore trusts, and other asset protection strategies, you will be sorry later. It’s your job to protect your assets—not someone else’s.

Let’s look at a few more strategies that will help you protect your work, make it harder for someone to steal from you, and if they do—to make it easier for you to sue them.

  1. ALWAYS, place the copyright notice symbol—in the proper format—on all your work (e.g., Copyright 2017 Marion Doe). It sends the message that you claim ownership of your work, PLUS in the event you ever need to sue someone for copyright infringement, your case is stronger.
  1. Register your work with the US copyright office.  A common myth floating around the creative community is that you can protect your copyrighted work by use of the so-called “poor man’s copyright”.  This is a dangerous piece of information in the hands of a content creator. It erroneously suggests that the security you seek through copyright protection, will be had by you mailing a copy of your work to yourself. WRONG!Here’s why: Even though you have a copyright the moment you reduce your original idea to a tangible form, without the benefit of registration it means nothing. One benefit of copyright registration is that you can sue someone for copyright infringement. Without a registration, you cannot sue.Copyright registration is not hard to do, and you can submit an online copyright registration. It’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to ensure that you get the copyright protection your desire.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.