Taylor Swift: Attempting to Trademark Lyrics

Jennifer Manns : February 10, 2015 4:32 pm : METAfeed


Taylor Swift is the latest in a long line of entities attempting to trademark something odd. The Seattle Seahawks recently attempted to trademark the word “boom” and the number “12.” Now, Taylor Swift has applied for a trademark for lyrics from songs in her most recent album in order to protect herself from counterfeit album merchandise. The lyrics she is attempting to gain federal trademark protection for are fairly generic phrases, including “Party like it’s 1989,” “Cause we never go out of style,” and “This sick beat.” The chances that any of these lyrics will pass muster and become federally registered trademarks are small. The lyrics consist of commonly used phrases that appear in both other songs and daily life. This fact alone does not preclude the lyrics from being trademarks, but the lyrics are such common phrases that even a Taylor Swift fan might not recognize them as a source of Taylor Swift merchandise under ordinary circumstances. Several other artists, including Beyonce and Britney Spears, have also attempted to trademark song lyrics, but none gained federal protection and the applications were abandoned. This is likely because consumers do not associate a music artist with a phrase in the same way that a consumer associates McDonald’s with the phrase “I’m lovin’ it.” Taylor Swift’s latest trademark attempts will therefore likely be unsuccessful as well. Taylor Swift fans can relax, however, because her music and performances are protected by copyrights that will keep her in high waist shorts for a long time.

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The Sports Car of ISPs

Geoffrey Mcaleenan : January 31, 2015 4:06 pm : BeyondIntellectual PropertyMETAfeedTech & Internet

05-veyron-power-gauge-detWhy’s my Internet so slow?! I won’t disparage any particular service provider, but we’ve all experienced an agonizingly slow Internet connection. In the Internet era where virtually every facet of life relies on the Internet, a slow connection can be disastrous. However, Google may have ignited the beginning of the end of slow Internet.

Google has invested in the so-called Google Fiber network, which is currently available in only several metropolitan areas. Google Fiber boasts Internet speeds up to 1000 megabits per second, which utterly eclipses rival ISPs’ top speeds of 40 to 5o mbps. Need a visual? Imagine a drag race between a Ferrari and a Minivan. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look for yourself, but, before you get too excited, it may be a while before Google Fiber is available nationwide. So, if you happen to be one of the lucky few cities where it’s available, comment below and let us know if it’s worth waiting for!

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Sam Smith owes royalties to Tom Petty for “Stay with Me,” Petty says similarities are a “musical accident”

Nickolas Galendez : January 29, 2015 12:40 pm : METAfeed

When Sam Smith’s song “Stay With Me” was first released, several critics noted that the song sounded similar to “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty. If you listen to the two songs, you can hear why – there are certainly some similarities between the two works.

Recently, the two artists reached a settlement agreement that requires Smith to pay Petty 12.5 percent of the royalties received. Speaking on the subject, Tom Petty noted that both sides were able to reach an agreement out-of-court, and Petty labeled the similarities a “musical accident.” Petty (along with Jeff Lynne, the collaborator of Petty’s on “I Won’t Back Down) will now receive a writing credit on the song.

As a law student, it is always good to see two parties taking the non-adversarial route to solving potential problems rather than rushing to the courthouse to litigate. If Smith and Petty did not reach an agreement and, instead, Petty sued, what do you think the result would have been?

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Supreme Court’s Standard of Review Stance

Jewell Briggs : January 29, 2015 12:05 pm : METAfeed

US Supreme CourtLast week the Court announced its unanimous opinion for 2 of the 3 intellectual property cases it heard last fall. Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank, a trademark case involving tacking, asked the court to determine whether tacking is a question for the jury or the judge. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., a patent case, asked the Court to determine “what standard the Court of Appeals should use when it reviews a trial judge’s resolution of an underlying factual dispute.”  In both cases the Court held that the standard of review for intellectual property cases should not differ from the held standard of review for non-intellectual cases. Thus, the Court of Appeals should apply a clear error standard when  reviewing factual matters, such as patent claim construction and trademark



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Should Professional Athletes Have Free Speech On the Field?

Jennifer Manns : January 28, 2015 4:00 pm : METAfeed

In contemplation of further research, I pose the question: Should professional athletes be entitled to the same free speech on the field as the fans are entitled to in the stands?

Professional athletes can be fined for unsportsmanlike conduct and even gestures they make on the field. Recently, five Rams players gained media attention by entering the field with their hands up, in a “don’t shoot” pose that has become popular with police violence protesters. The NFL decided not to fine these players. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, however, was fined $20,000 for an explicit gesture he made on the field during the NFC Championship game. Football players in the NFL can also be subject to fines for excessive celebrations after a touchdown. Incidents like these exemplify a central issue in professional sports and have led to public debate over whether sports organizations should be restricting the behavior of their athletes through fines and suspensions. While professional sports teams are private organizations, they often strictly control athletes’ behavior during the season, on and off the field. Should professional athletes be held to such standards?

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Seahawks Want to Trademark “Boom” and the Number “12″

Jennifer Manns : January 22, 2015 2:13 pm : METAfeed

Just in time for Superbowl season, the NFL championship contender, the Seattle Seahawks, are reportedly pursuing new trademark protections. The Seahawks filed for trademark protection for the number “12″, the word “Boom,” and even the phrase “Go Hawks.” The trademark applications were filed in late 2013, but have recently come to light in the wake of new developments surrounding the potential trademarks.

Seahawk 12 exp_0According to the Lanham Act, a trademark may not be registered if it resembles another already registered mark and will likely cause confusion as to the true origin of the goods. In the case of the Seahawks, this restriction may bar its recent applications. The phrase “Go Hawks” has already been blocked due to objections from both the NHL and the NBA on behalf of teams that already have a similar slogan. “Boom” was rejected by federal trademark examiners because of a similar likelihood of confusion concern with already registered names. The number “12″ by itself is likely too broad to be a potential trademark because it would infringe on the trademarks of other players and teams as well as marks containing the number 12 in fields outside of the sports industry. The Seahawks organization is reportedly attempting to reapply for trademark protection for its team signifiers.

An article published in the Seattle Times discussed the trademark applications further.

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Police Presence to Make Winter Driving Safer?

Geoffrey Mcaleenan : January 19, 2015 2:07 pm : BeyondMediaMETAfeed

Trafficstop-winterIt’s that time of year again where the weather gets bad and the driving gets worse. The news in Michigan has been peppered with tragic winter car crashes, and the state is paying attention. The Michigan State Police has vowed to crack down on poor driving in an effort to deter bad driving and thus prevent fatal car accidents. Furthermore, the State Police intends to launch an initiative this upcoming summer that will target people who text while driving by placing officers in unmarked cars to videotape potential violators. The question is, does this go too far? It’s legal, but will this activity create a deeper divide between the police and ordinary citizens? Weigh in with your comments below!

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Explaining IP?

Jewell Briggs : January 9, 2015 12:12 pm : METAfeed

I recently came across the newly launched USPTO children and teen orientated webpage, and I have to admit that I spent more time than I should exploring the website‘s offerings. The site has inventor trading cards with cartoon pictorials and invention descriptions. The site features video summaries of all recent headline inventions, and videos featuring young students and their novel inventions. The site is filled with a variety of at home and in class activities, such as building a rocket using patent claims and comparing copyrightable sound marks. These activities can be completed to earn a scout patch. The site’s offerings are expansive with three overarching sections for children, teens, and educators.

CaptureThe site is an attempt to teach children the importance of the intellectual property and excite them about becoming inventors. However, speaking from my own explorations, you do not have to be a youngster to appreciate what this site has to offer.



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Chick-Fil-A to “eat some crow” as the USPTO approves “Eat More Kale.

Jennifer Manns : December 28, 2014 3:46 pm : METAfeed

The USPTO finally determined that a small Vermont-based T-shirt company’s slogan “Eat More Kale” warrants trademark protection, quashing a several year old legal battle between the T-shirt company and the chicken powerhouse, Chick-Fil-A. The issue arose when Bo Muller-Moore began selling T-Shirts printed with the slogan “Eat More Kale” and Chick-Fil-A claimed that the slogan was too similar to its own “Eat Mor Chikin” advertisements.


Chick-Fil-A believed that Muller-Moore’s shirts employed a slogan that was too close to the Chick-Fil-A trademark and was printed in a similar font. Muller-Moore’s shirts may have evoked the style of the Chick-Fil-A slogan, but when the USPTO granted the “Eat More Kale” name trademark protection, Chick-Fil-A’s claim was dealt a fatal blow. Even if the USPTO did not find “Eat More Kale” to be a valid trademark, it is possible that the slogan would have been permissible under the trademark law fair use exception of comparisons. The kale-supporting slogan obliquely contrasts the chicken-supporting Chick-Fil-A slogan to advertise a healthier and more vegetable rich diet. The USPTO’s finding, however, makes this argument superfluous and opens the door to more merchandise by Muller-Moore.

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Sony Under Fire for Copyright Infringement in “The Interview”

Jennifer Manns : December 28, 2014 3:21 pm : METAfeed


As if Sony hasn’t had enough trouble with its new film, “The Interview,” Sony has come under the new threat of a copyright infringement lawsuit. The film, whose release in theaters was cancelled, but is now widely available for download on iTunes, includes the song “Pay Day” by pop singer Yoon Mi-rae. Yoon Mi-rae’s record label claims that Sony did not pay for the rights to use the song. Sony initially participated in a negotiation with the record label, Feel Ghood Music, for the use of the song, but no agreement was met and Sony did not obtain a license for the song. Feel Ghood Music representatives assumed that Sony no longer intended to use “Pay Day” in the movie. “Pay Day,” however, can be heard in “The Interview” and Feel Ghood Music has taken legal action for Sony’s alleged copyright infringement. This latest stumble by Sony could place the company in more hot water in the wake of last month’s hacker leak of confidential Sony communications and the ensuing discrepancy over the film’s release. Sony’s alleged infringement is also a nasty coincidence as it was reported that Sony’s new film was illegally downloaded over 1.7 million times since its release.

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