The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
InternKats: Rose Hughes, Ieva Giedrimaite, and Cecilia Sbrolli
SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Letter from AmeriKat II - Bits 'n Pieces

  • Mars v Hershey - Candy bar giant Mars Inc is suing Hershey for copyright and trade dress infringement over commercials for Hershey’s Bliss chocolate that Mars allege copied its 2008 Dove TV ads. Mars claims the Bliss ads (right) use the Dove ads “image of a silky scarf-like image, a pillow shapeemerging from a pool of chocolate, a series of laudatory words displayed in a distinctive white and gold cursive script…[and] an image of the head and shoulders of a smiling woman with long brown hair.” Sounds like every chocolate ad the AmeriKat has ever seen. Mars is also claiming that two former Mars employees who worked on the Dove advertising campaign were hired by Hershey to create their Bliss commercials. For further information see this article in Bloomberg.
  • Larry Flynt v Family: Last Friday, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt won his federal trade mark infringement trial against his nephews, Jimmy Jr. and Dustin Flynt. Flynt’s nephews earlier this year launched their own line of adult films under the name “Flynt”. Larry Flynt alleged that these films were “inferior products’ and “knock-off goods” which tarnished his trade mark name “Flynt”. The nephews countered that they were entitled to conduct business under their own name. The nephews’ attorney, Daniel DeCarlo, argued before a federal jury that consumers of porn are “careful and discerning” consumers when it comes to choosing products and therefore there was no confusion, actual or likely, between Larry Flynt and his nephews’’ products. Larry Flynt’s attorney countered with expert survey evidence that consumers were in fact confused by the nephews’ use of the Flynt name. On Friday the jury ruled that the nephews did in infringe Flynt’s trade mark. For more information please see this article in the LA Times.

  • Google and Microsoft sued to the same tune – Last week a small music label, Blues Destiny Records, filed a copyright infringement suit in Florida against Google and Microsoft for allegedly “facilitating and enabling” the illegal distribution of their copyright songs. Blues Destiny claims that Germany-based file sharing service, RapidShare, benefits from ad relationships with Microsoft and Google.The claim states that “RapidShare generates revenue by selling subscriptions for its high-speed download services, and through advertising dollars generated by its advertising partnerships with Google and Microsoft. RapidShare's business success is accomplished only with the knowing assistance of these two top search engines - Google and Microsoft's Bing (see above photo)." Blues Destiny claim that RapidShare is able to “achieve consistent prominent ranking in search engine results” due to the links with Microsoft and Google. Because of the ‘knowing’ element claimed in the suit, Blues Destiny alleges that the defendants cannot avail themselves under the US copyright law which exempt companies from liability for merely linking to infringing content if they are unaware of this and do not receive financial benefit. The AmeriKat believes it is unlikely that this suit will gather much speed given the difficulties of proving the ‘knowing’ factor with internet hyperlinks. For further information please see this article in the Examiner.
  • Office Space star sues Wikipedia vandal – If you are like the AmeriKat and can relate to many aspects of the cult film Office Space (especially the scene with the printer bashing), then you may be interested to hear that Ron Livingston who played the protagonist in the 1999 film has filed a lawsuit against an anonymous Wikipedia editor for repeatedly altering his entry. For more information regarding this and the Communications Decency Act, please see this article in Wired.
  • Bratz freed in time for the Holiday- Last Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Bratz maker MGA Entertainment can continue selling its dolls (see Bratz identity parade below) despite having lost a copyright infringement suit last year brought by Mattel (which included a jury award of $100 million damages). Bratz was initially ordered to transition its line to Mattel by 2010, but last Wednesday the court stayed the order until it can rule on MGA’s substantive appeal. For more information please see this article in the Wall Street Journal and this article from the BBC.

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