Tag Archives: Copyright protection

Does Copyright Now Cover Functionality?

On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. regarding the scope of copyright protection for “pictorial, graphic or sculptural features” that have been added to useful articles—in this case, cheerleading uniforms.   The case has mostly gained attention because its facts crystalize the tension between … Continue Reading

How Will the Supreme Court Function With the Varsity Brands Test?

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it had agreed to review the Sixth Circuit’s copyright decision in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, which involves the issue of whether certain designs appearing on cheerleading uniforms are copyrightable or are instead non-copyrightable functional elements that are an inherent part of cheerleading uniform designs. In a split decision, … Continue Reading

The Monkey in the Machine

In 2011, a Celebes crested macaque took a shot that was heard ’round the world. In a jungle in Indonesia, it depressed the remote trigger button of a photographer’s camera, effectively taking a selfie. The “monkey selfie” has ignited a great deal of commentary musing on the nature of copyright ownership. The human photographer claimed … Continue Reading

Artist Richard Prince Sued for Use of Photo from Instagram

It is not the first time artist Richard Prince has made headlines for appropriating others’ artwork into his own without attribution or license. But this time, he has done so in a way that may have implications on the use of photographs posted on social media. He is being sued on one of the 37 … Continue Reading

Tomaydo-Tomahhdo

Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit ruled the “Tomaydo-Tomahhdo Recipe Book” was not creative enough to warrant a copyright. The case started when Rosemarie Carroll (and related companies) sued her ex-partner, Larry Moore (and others) for copying her recipe book.  Recipes and ingredient lists have never been copyrightable by themselves, but much like other compilations, when … Continue Reading

Drawing a Line in the Floor—Courts Are Struggling With the Overlap Between Design Patent and Copyright

In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court in Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. emphasized that “[t]he rights of a patentee or copyright holder are part of a ‘carefully crafted bargain,’ … under which, once the patent or copyright monopoly has expired, the public may use the invention or work at will and without … Continue Reading
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