News

Facebook Lacks Standing to Challenge Subpoenas, Appeals Court Says

A New York appeals court has sided with prosecutors, finding that Facebook lacked standing to challenge subpoenas requiring the social media company to turn over all information in the accounts of 381 people. Only the individuals in question can challenge the subpoenas, but reportedly none have done so in the New York City disability-fraud case that resulted. It focused on more than 130 police officers and other public workers in New York City whose disability claims allegedly conflicted with information about life activities on their Facebook accounts, the ABA Journal reports.

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Lawyers Say New Proof Will Show ‘Happy Birthday’ Not Protected by Copyright

Lawyers who claim the Happy Birthday song is in the public domain say, in a motion filed Monday, that newly disclosed evidence contains the “proverbial smoking gun” that proves the lyrics are no longer protected by copyright, the ABA Journal reports. The cited proof: A 1922 song book that included the Happy Birthday song without a copyright notice. The motion seeks a summary judgment ruling that the lyrics have been in the public domain since at least 1922, and copyright protects only specific piano arrangements of the song. The lawyers represent a documentary filmmaker who filed a class action lawsuit over a $1,500 Happy Birthday licensing fee. 

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Tech Companies Side with Samsung Against Apple in IP Suit

Google, Facebook, and eBay are just some of the companies supporting Samsung’s objection to the court decision ordering it to fork over profits from smartphones found to infringe upon certain Apple patents. It’s the latest development in a long-running intellectual property war that culminated in 2012, when a jury found Samsung guilty of infringing on a handful of Apple’s design and utility patents for the iPhone and awarded Apple $929 million in damages, an amount that was later reduced by $382 million. Samsung is now seeking a review of that decision. A coalition of tech companies that have a stake in protecting their own smartphones, software and related IP have submitted a “friend of the court” brief in support of Samsung’s petition. BuzzfeedNews has more

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Could Harper Lee Have Written a Fourth Book?

With rumors flying of a third novel by Harper Lee, sources are now hinting the famed To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman author may actually have a fourth, nonfiction manuscript titled, The Reverend. It supposedly chronicles the true-life story of Rev. Willie Maxwell, who was suspected in the deaths of various relatives, said Wayne Flynt, a professor of history at Auburn University who said he spoke to Lee's sister about the mysterious manuscript before her death. Years ago, Lee went so far as to interview a doctor about poisons to find out which could cause someone to die but not be found in an autopsy, according to Flynt. In March, The New Yorker similarly reported on the possibility of a book about the Rev. Maxwell. The family of Maxwell's lawyer shared with the magazine what they say is a chapter of the book Lee sent to the lawyer. WCYB has more from the AP.

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Federal Judge Cancels Redskins’ Trademark

For the first time in a legal battle that has stretched over 20 years, a federal judge on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of the Washington Redskins' trademark registration, ruling that the team name may be disparaging to Native Americans. While the ruling does not bar the team from using the Redskins name if it wishes, Redskins President Bruce Allen said the team will appeal. News Channel 5 has more from the AP.

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Lawmaker Wants Refund for New State Logo

State Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, is calling for a refund of most of the $46,000 the state paid for a new logo, saying the design company failed to comply with outsourcing rules and was “substantially over compensated.” Knoxnews reports that Daniel wrote to executives of GS&F, the Nashville advertising firm that developed the logo, to complain about the nature of the final product, the fact that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected trademark protection for the logo and widespread public discontent with the mark.

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Court: Apple Violated Antitrust Law in E-Book Market

Apple violated antitrust laws by colluding with publishers to raise electronic book prices when it entered a market that had been dominated by Amazon.com, a divided federal appeals court panel found Tuesday. A three-judge panel of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 that a lower-court correctly found Apple violated the law. The U.S. Justice Department and 33 states and territories, including Tennessee, sued Apple and five publishers. WSMV has this story from the Associated Press.

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Court Decides Patent, Excessive Force, Other Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday issued four decisions in argued cases, including major decisions on the Fourth Amendment, patent law, the Takings Clause and excessive force claims by pretrial detainees. SCOTUSblog provides a wrap up of the day’s events.

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Online Resources for IP Lawyers

If you missed the TBA's annual Intellectual Property Forum, sessions are now available online for replay. Programs cover music licensing, transformative fair use and ethics and culture issues from the General Motors case.

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Patent Pro Bono Program Expands to Tennessee

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is working with area law firms and legal organizations to launch a Patent Pro Bono program in Tennessee. Kickoff events will be held June 1 in Nashville and June 3 in Memphis.

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Patent Pro Bono Program Coming to Tennessee

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is working with area law firms, the TBA and other legal organizations to launch a Patent Pro Bono program in Tennessee. Kickoff events will be held Monday in Nashville and Wednesday in Memphis. The event will bring inventors and small businesses together with attorneys to learn about a nationwide program created through a White House initiative to connect income-constrained individuals with pro bono patent services. The Nashville program will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Arciplex, 504 Sixth Ave. South, with a reception to follow at Encore, 301 Demonbreun. RSVP to coliver@ncbar.org. The Memphis program will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, 20 Dudley St., with reception to follow. Register online.

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Appeals Court Protects Controversial Muslim Film

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday reversed an earlier takedown order for the “Innocence of Muslims,” an anti-Muslim film that has resulted in death threats against an actress who says she did not authorize filmmakers to use her image and words. The appeals court said the takedown order, issued by a three-judge panel of the court, was an unconstitutional prior restraint under the First Amendment. The actress had filed suit to have the film removed from all Google sites, including You Tube. The ABA Journal has links to the story.

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Judge: Good Ole Rocky Top Can't Market the Merch

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction stopping a marketing firm in the newly named city of Rocky Top from using the Rocky Top name "on goods and services," including T-shirts and other merchandise. Knoxnews reports that although Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan in Knoxville had previously denied an injunction sought by House of Bryant Publications, owner of the Rocky Top trademark and the famous song, the judge ruled that trademark infringement was potentially taking place, and ordered the defendants, Rocky Top Tennessee Marketing and Manufacturing Co., and its owners and officers, to stop using the name.

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Nashville Lawyers Launch Online Trademark Service

A trio of Nashville attorneys has launched the online trademark company Trust Tree Legal. The founders -- Bill Ferrell, Randy Michels and Kevin Hartley -- have a combined 30 years of experience in trademark law and patent litigation. The company offers four levels of support ranging in price from $149 to $949 and provides assistance with trademark searches, filing and maintenance; foreign filing; and foreign counterfeits. The trio also offers guidance through a new blog, The Root, the Nashville Business Journal reports.

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Nashville Attorney Behind Recent Copyright Infringement Suit

Calling him the "nation's hottest copyright attorney," the Tennessean looks at Nashville attorney Richard Busch and the attention received for his recent triumph in the controversial "Blurred Lines" lawsuit, in which the heirs of R&B legend Marvin Gaye successfully argued that pop stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams stole from Gaye's hit song "Got To Give It Up." The lawsuit received international media coverage, and the $7.4 million jury verdict in the Gaye family's favor sparked debate, and some outrage, in songwriting circles.

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House Panel Approves Digital Assets Bill

A state House subcommittee has approved legislation setting rules for access to digital information after death or disability, Humphrey on the Hill reports. The “Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act” has drawn opposition from representatives of Facebook, Google and Amazon on the grounds that it would declare company policies void if they conflict with state law. The bill gives the legal representative of a deceased or incapacitated person authority to decide how pictures and postings on a site will be disposed of, even though the user once gave the site the right to control such things. TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur said many social media sites put such provisions in the fine print of their sign-up contracts, which has led to unfortunate situations. Knoxnews has the story.

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New Ethics Session at Intellectual Property Spring Institute

Join us for the annual Intellectual Property Spring Institute on April 17 in Nashville. This year’s sessions include practical takeaways for Tennessee lawyers on a variety of topics including developments in trademark, transformative fair use and patent litigation updates. New this year is an ethics session on lessons learned from the General Motors case.

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Wikipedia Sues NSA for Surveillance Program

The Wikimedia Foundation has filed suit against the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the NSA's mass surveillance program. The suit alleges that the agency's broad monitoring of Internet traffic violates the freedoms that U.S. citizens are granted under the First and Fourth Amendments. Wikimedia, part of the popular Wikipedia free-content website, is joined by eight other organizations, and will be represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. WRCB has more from Digital Trends.

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Nashville Lawyer Wins Big for Marvin Gaye’s Family

Pop stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams infringed on the copyright for Marvin Gaye's hit song "Got to Give It Up," according to a Tuesday verdict from a federal jury, which awarded Gaye's family $7.4 million. The case marked a monumental win for Nashville entertainment law attorney Richard Busch of King and Ballow, who represented the Gaye family. The contentious and sometimes weird legal battle centered on Thicke and Williams' 2013 song "Blurred Lines.” The Tennessean has the story.

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Chicago Entertainment Firm Opens Nashville Office

Leavens, Strand & Glover (LSG), a Chicago-based entertainment law firm, has opened an office on Nashville’s Music Row. LSG partner Hillel Frankel will relocate to Nashville to lead the office, which will be located at 1102 17th Ave. S., Nashville 37212. LSG focuses in music, film, entertainment and intellectual property law. Clients include Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, Pitchfork Media Inc. and Rick Nielsen, lead guitarist of classic rock band Cheap Trick, the Nashville Business Journal reports.

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IP Law Firm Partners with Project Music Accelerator Program

Patterson Intellectual Property Law today announced its partnership with Project Music, a music and technology business accelerator program. Developed in partnership with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and the Country Music Association, Project Music guides eight tech start-up companies through an intensive 14-week business development and music business boot camp. All eight start-ups in the program are building businesses to work with the music industry.

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ASCAP Names General Counsel New CEO

ASCAP has promoted executive vice president and general counsel Elizabeth “Beth” Matthews to be its new CEO. She replaces John LoFrumento, who retired at the end of the year. Matthews takes the reins of the performance rights organization during a time of upheaval and uncertainty as ASCAP awaits word from the Department of Justice about potential revisions to its federal consent decree, the Tennessean reports. Matthews has pushed for reform of the decree, which governs what actions publishers may take with regard to the licensing of their catalogs.

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5 Make Move to Waller with Waddey

In addition to luring Jack Waddey away from the firm formerly known as Waddey & Patterson, Waller has hired four intellectual property attorneys from the firm and recruited a Waddey alum from Huntsville, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Andy Pitchford, Matthew Cox, Nate Bailey and Blake Bernard also are making the move to Waller, while Alabama lawyer Larry Brantley will work from Huntsville until he is licensed in Tennessee. The additions give Waller new depth in electrical, mechanical and computer engineering, Waller Chairman Matt Burnstein said.

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Waddey Patterson Co-Founder Jumps to Waller

Jack Waddey has left the Waddey & Patterson firm he co-founded in 1992 to be a partner at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. The shareholders of Waddey's former home have moved quickly to rename the firm Patterson PC. At Waller, Waddey will join an IP law team of 10. He has worked in IP law for more than 35 years and helped build his former firm into one of the region's top intellectual property boutiques. The Nashville Post has more.

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PTO Revamps Kids Website

Officials at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are trying to convince children that learning about intellectual property protection is as hip as playing Minecraft. As part of its effort, the agency has redesigned its USPTO Kids website, which now features videos and activities for kids, and lesson plans for parents and teachers. Students can also learn about young innovators, such as Marissa Streng, who invented a device for drying pets. Finally, the site offers collectible cards featuring famous patent holders, which kids can gather, collect and trade. The ABA Journal reported the news.

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