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.

 

 

What is Actually Protected by Copyright?

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Copyright

We all know that that any original work of art or authorship, which has been reduced to a tangible format is entitled to copyright protection. But what exactly does that entail?

Here is a short list of items that can, and should be protected by copyright:

If you are a musician, who has created original music, then you should protect the following:

  1. The lyrics to the songs
  2. The melodies
  3. Finished recordings

If you are a writer, who has created original content, then you should protect the following:

  1. Articles
  2. Books
  3. Blog posts

If you are a trainer/consultant/coach, who has created original content, then you should protect the following:

  1. Training materials
  2. Manuals

If you are a dancer or choreographer, who has created original content, then you should protect the following:

  1. Choreographed works

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.

 

 

Trademark? Copyright?

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What is the difference between a Trademark and a Copyright?

While speaking at conferences  and webinars a frequent legal question that continuously  seems to come up is the difference between a trademark and screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-6-59-07-pmcopyright.

And there is indeed a distinction between a copyright and a trademark. And although both are forms of intellectual property, they each are distinctly different types of protection.

Copyright

Copyright – is a legal form of protection afforded to any original work of art or authorship that has been reduced to a tangible form. Examples again are books, articles, eBooks, photos, videos, poems, jewelry, and choreographed works. For more information on copyright, take a look at this page and check out the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Trademark

Trademark – a name, word, phrase, logo, or a combination of those things that identifies the source of a product or a service. Examples are Nike, Microsoft, Apple, the golden arches, the Nike swoosh symbol. For more information on trademark, take a look at this page and check out the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website.

If your logo is important to you, and if it is at the core of your business, you should speak with a lawyer on a one to one basis and get some specific legal advice regarding your situation. Any information provided here is purely general informational and not legal advice.

You can read more in detail on the distinctions of both on the United States Patent  & Trademark Office website here.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward providing you with useful information to help you protect what’s yours. If you have a question you want me to answer in general terms, feel free to post the question on the comment section.  You can also connect with me through my Legal Facebook Page, my Legal Twitter Page, one of my Google+ Circles, or through one of my LinkedIn Group discussion.

The Walking Dead. Trademark Infringement.

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Just in time for Halloween, the producer of the hit cable TV series, The Walking Dead, has filed a Trademark infringement lawsuit over the use of the name ‘Valhalla.’

fotolia_29963865_xsTrademark Lawsuit.

Valhalla Entertainment, the company behind The Walking Dead series, as well as two spinoffs of the popular show, Fear The Walking Dead and Talking Dead, filed the trademark suit against a company that is calling itself, Valhalla Studios.

Adding fuel to the lawsuit is the fact that Valhalla Studios opened up shop right in Atlanta, Georgia where The Walking Dead is produced. The suit states that unauthorized use of the name (Valhalla), which was registered in 1997, causes confusion and a misleading association with the two companies.

Wrongful Profits.

Besides trademark infringement, the lawsuit also sites unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and trademark dilution, as well as an unspecified amount of “wrongful” profits, actual and enhanced damages and legal fees and costs.

Ryan Millsap, the CEO of Valhalla Studios said he was surprised to hear about the lawsuit, saying he and his partners thought they were choosing a generic name whose roots stem from Viking lore. The company is investing roughly $70 million to build 9 sound stages on a 53 acre lot right outside of Atlanta. Millsap said his lawyers were in negotiation for over a month with Valhalla Entertainment regarding the name and was convinced they would come to an amicable agreement.

Coincidence?

Was this a simply a coincidence of a movie production company moving into the same area where a hit cable show is produced and innocently choosing the same name as the entertainment company that produces the show? Or is Valhalla Studios intentionally attempting to create confusion and ride the coattails of the popular production?

What are your thoughts?

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.