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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous IP Topics’ Category

Copyright Violations Claimed by Viacom Against YouTube

MSN Money reports just days after Google owned YouTube announced that media companies will have no choice but to work with online sites such as theirs, Viacom has responded with a $1 billion lawsuit, alleging that the video-sharing site has shown 160,000 of its videos without permission. Previously, after talks about a licensing deal failed, YouTube said it would remove 100,000 Viacom clips, including a number from Comedy Central shows.  Viacom and other big media players say that the problem with YouTube is that it will pull copyright clips only after its been asked to do so, putting the burden of policing content on the copyright holders and allowing users to re-post illegal copies as soon as they are removed. Google and YouTube rely on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed in 1998, which criminalizes technology whose primary purpose is to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works – – even where there is no actual infringement. If a [&hellip

Florida Intellectual Property Attorney Takes on Disney Company

As a Florida patent attorney and the author of the Florida Intellectual Property Law Blog, I often receive press releases and news submissions relating to Florida intellectual property matters.  I received the following press release today regarding another case by Florida intellectual property attorneys Silverman Santucci, LLP concerning alleged violations of Florida trade secret law: For immediate release by PRceptions: Tim Allen and Touchtone Pictures Sued Over Wild Hogs Rip-Off One week before the national release of the much publicized John Travolta road comedy, Wild Hog’s, Travolta’s co-star, and Hollywood funny man, Tim Allen, and Disney’s Touchtone Pictures, are being sued for theft of trade secrets under Florida law. The suit is still pending. If South Florida screen writers Steven Battaglia and Paul Danner get their way, and the Florida courts aprove, all money generated by the movie will be deposited in a trust fund pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

Florida Manufacturer & Technology Associations

A number of technology and manufacturing companies, suppliers, and service industries in Florida have formed associations to benefit from the shared knowledge, networking, leglislative initiatives, and idea exchange that results from collective action.  Some of the ones of which I am aware are listed below (in no particular order) and I welcome suggestions for any additions to this list: Brevard Manufacturing & Technology Association Enterprise Florida Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast South Florida Manufacturers Association First Coast Manufacturers Association Florida High Tech Corridor Council Bay Area Manufacturers Association – "The Voice of Manufacturing in the Tampa Bay Area" Marine Industries of South Florida Marion Regional Manufacturers Association Florida Minerals and Chemistry Council Manufacturers Association of Florida Florida Medical Manufacturers’ Consortium, Inc. Manufacturers Association of Central Florida Ma

Copyright Infringement Lands Florida Man in Prison

The Florida Litigation Center reports that Stephen Michael Smith, 34, of Middleburg, Florida was recently sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by the Honorable Henry Lee Adams, Jr., United States District Judge in the Jacksonville Division of the Middle District of Florida, for distribution of pirated software over the internet, in violation of federal criminal copyright infringement laws. Smith previously entered a guilty plea to a single count information on December 7, 2004, which charged him with infringement of a copyright.  In addition to the prison term, Smith was ordered to forfeit all computer equipment used in commission of the offense, and during his two years of supervised release, is to have no access to computers connected to the internet, absent his probation officer’s permission. Smith operated the internet website Awww.FullBackups.com and offered copyright protected software programs for sale without the copyright holders authorization.  Smith admitted t

Copyright Treatise Excellent Resource

 William Patry has authored a new 7 volume (no appendices), 5,830 page    treatise on copyright  that West just published. The treatise is unusual in a lot respects. It is an extremely comprehensive treatise on copyright and Mr. Patry believes it is one of  the largest legal treatises ever written by a single individual. Mr. Patry has a diverse background, which is reflected in the treatise. He is presently Senior Copyright Counsel to Google Inc., but was also a full-time law professor at Cardozo Law School for 5 years, copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives (3 and a half years), a Policy Planning Advisor to the Register of Copyrights (4 and a half years), and he spent 12 years in private practice litigating copyright cases. The treatise reflects all these experiences and has a foreword by Justice O’Connor and an endorsement by former Solictor General of the United States Walter Dellinger. Mr. Patry previously published a se

Florida Ranks Third in U.S. Popularity for Novel Settings

According to an article in Business Wire, publishing statistics compiled by Bowker list Florida as third, behind California and Texas as the most popular fictional state setting in the United States released in novels today.   Romance, mystery & detective, science fiction, and western genres comprised half of all adult fiction published in the United States. The entire article can be found here.   These statistics obviously have a great impact on copyright protection, regarding literary works created by authors.   According to the United States Copyright Office, copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright. Anyone aspiring to write a novel might want to consult with an intellectual property attorney who can address any concerns re

Protecting Confidential Business Information Under Trade Secret Law

Sometimes the nature of a new method of doing business or a new idea does not lend itself to effective trademark, copyright or patent protection. It may still be possible to provide some protection for these ideas through contract or trade secret law.   The formula used for the Coca Cola brand soft drink is a classic example of a successful trade secret with a long life. Unlike patent, trademark, and copyright law, the law relating to contracts and trade secrets is based on state law and may differ from state to state.   Trade secrets are generally defined as proprietary or confidential information used in a business. Trade secrets must have commercial value or provide a competitive edge. Examples of trade secrets include customer or supplier lists, marketing plans, formulas for compositions (soft drinks), and manufacturing processes. In order to qualify for trade secret protection, the subject matter must be sufficiently secret so that the use of improper means […]

Preventing Unfair Business Competition

As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, there are a multitude of competitive risks faced by companies that, although unfair, are perfectly legal. As such, the term “unfair competition law” is actually an illusory term and one of the most difficult areas of intellectual property to define.   Unfair competition law encompasses a variety of types of commercial or business conduct including acts of trademark and trade dress infringement, false advertising, dilution, and trade secret theft. Unlike other areas of intellectual property protection, such as patent and copyright law, unfair competition claims are not pre-empted by federal law and may involve both federal and state causes of action. The purpose of unfair competition doctrines is to protect consumers and competitors from deceptive or unethical conduct in commerce. The typical unfair competition situation exists, for example, when a business represents its goods or services in a manner that buyers confuse the

Duplicating Successful Business Methods Through Franchising

Before looking into franchising a new idea for a successful business, it is important for an entrepreneur to understand the conceptual dynamics of franchises and the franchise arrangement. Franchising can be an excellent way to expand a business. By cloning proven business and marketing techniques and finding others willing to invest their time and money to help grow a business concept, a proprietor can use franchising to obtain growth rates much higher than if he or she were restricted to opening more units on their own.   It is important to realize, however, that the primary reason people will pay you for a franchise is to minimize the risk of them starting a new business venture from scratch. Potential investors are looking to purchase the right to duplicate a tried and tested approach to a business that has already been proven to be successful. Ideally, the flagship operation will have already developed strong consumer loyalty and a degree of brand […]

Protecting Creative Expression Through Copyright Law

When most people think of creative expression, they naturally envision the work of individual authors, artists, poets, singers, and musicians. In fact, these works only comprise the classic examples of copyrightable subject matter. Less obvious, however, is the multitude of everyday business components that lend themselves to copyright protection.   In today’s competitive business environment, the potential valuation of a company lies not just in its physical assets but is based to a great extent on its ability to develop and capitalize upon a steady stream of new ideas and creativity. In this regard, important creative components of a business including sales brochures, advertising, solicitation letters and emails, instruction manuals, architectural and engineering drawings, pictures, photographs, paintings, graphical images, web-site designs, computer software, music, and sound recordings can all be protected under copyright law.   Copyright protection protects the or

Preventing Insider Competition in a Down Economy

With reduced barriers to entry, key employees are more capable than ever before of forming split-off start-up companies and competing with their former employers. Furthermore, job mobility is at an all-time high with senior management and even principals moving regularly as a way to take advantage of new opportunities and to advance their careers.   In this contextual setting, it certainly is not difficult for confidential and proprietary information to reach an established competitor through a trusted former employee, partner, vendor, or sub-contractor. Companies simply cannot afford to risk stockpiling valuable ideas and proprietary knowledge in the minds of a mobile, independent, and sometimes disloyal workforce.   It is a well known axiom in business that the employees you trust the most can also steal the most. As such, most businesses have controls in place to monitor and prevent the theft of typical physical assets of the company such as inventory, supplies, cash, mach

Assessing Your Company’s Intellectual Property Assets

When asked to identify company assets, many business people will rattle off a listing of real estate, equipment, supplies, inventory, and other tangible property.   In today’s economic climate, however, it is more important than ever to be vigilant in securing and protecting valuable intellectual property assets such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.   Like other types of property, intellectual assets can be bought, sold, traded, appraised, and used as collateral for a loan. How do you determine if your business owns valuable intellectual property? Let’s go through a short checklist:   Do you own a website or have sales brochures? How about written product descriptions, advertising, solicitation letters and emails, instruction manuals, architectural and engineering drawings, pictures, photographs, paintings, graphical images, web-site designs, or computer software? If any of these items sound familiar, you have valuable rights protected u

Miscellaneous IP Topics

All blog postings to this category are related to Miscellaneous IP topics as they appear in the law. These may include, but are not limited to, Copyright Law, Franchise Law, Trade Secrets, and Unfair Competition.