Superman litigation heats up, up, and away: Last Friday, Warner Bros. company, DC Comics, filed a copyright and interference with contract claim against Los Angeles attorney Marc Toberoff in LA federal court. Toberoff was representing the heirs of the Superman creators- Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster -in their battle with Warner Bros. The complaint alleges that the creators of Superman never terminated DC Comic's copyright to Superman and that their heirs agreed to royalty agreements for the duration of the copyright. The suit argues that Toberoff induced the families to repudiate the agreements and terminate DC's Superman copyright in an attempt to reclaim the copyright in the superhero. The complaint also alleges that Toberoff sought a financial interest in Superman by securing the families' claims by orchestrating
"a web of collusive agreements concerning the Superman copyrights with the heirs to the co-creators of Superman...By these agreements, Toberoff purported to secure a majority and controlling financial stake in copyright interests in Superman...and preclude the heirs from freely entering into new agreements with DC Comics for the continued exploitation of Superman."Toberoff replied to the complaint:
Warner Bros. have hired Daniel Petrocelli (O'Melveny & Myers) to fight the contractual terminations between DC Comics and the heirs. Petrocelli was the attorney who aided Disney's win in the merchandising right battle against the heirs to Winnie the Pooh.
“Having lost repeatedly on the merits over the last five and a half years in 'Superman’ litigation. Warner Bros. and their new attorney Dan Petrocelli have now launched a libelous personal attack against me and my clients.”
Warner Bros. stated:
“DC has spent decades working constructively with our talent and creators and we look forward to a speedy resolution of these matters so we can continue to share Superman with all his many fans for generations to come.”
USPTO Announce Workshop: Two weeks ago, the USPTO announced that on 26 May 2010 they will hold a joint public workshop on "the intersection of patent policy and competition policy and its implications for promoting innovation." That is not an overly broad topic at all, says the AmeriKat. Kappos and Friends will be in attendance, including Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Christine Varney and FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez. Kappos had this to say about the workshop:
“Since innovation is the only sustainable source of America’s competitive advantage, the relationship between intellectual property, which captures the value of innovation, and competition policy, which maintains a dynamicThe morning panel will consider the challenges posed by the patent backlog and its affect on competitive strategies of applicants, as well as considering the impact of the Supreme Courts 2006 opinion in eBay Inc v MercExchange. The afternoon panel will consider the role of patents impact on industry standards and competition.
marketplace for innovation, is of paramount importance. This conference is designed to explore the relationship between competition policy and intellectual property policy and how it fosters innovation.”
Heroes gets sued: Graphic novel author, Jason Barnes (aka Jazan Wild) has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against NBC Universal alleging that season 4 of the popular TV show Heroes copies plot details from his novels Carnival of Souls. The suit states that the first two episodes "introduce a traveling carnival virtually identical to that in [Barnes']s original, copyrighted works" including the replication of Jamaican Vodoo witchdoctors. NBC Universal told Entertainment Weekly that they believed the lawsuit to be "meritless". For a side-to-side comparison of the two click here.