News

Knoxville Based Boat Company Accused of Violating Patent Injunction

Cobalt Boats LLC filed a motion in federal court on May 11 accusing Brunswick Corporation's Knoxville based Sea Ray brand of violating an injunction order by continuing to infringe on Cobalt's patented flip-down "retractable swim step," according to a press release issued on Wednesday. Cobalt contends that the swim steps currently sold on Sea Ray boats are not significantly different from the Sea Ray swim steps found to be an infringement in a previous trial, in which Cobalt was awarded upward to $5.4 million.

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Share Your Thoughts on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6

The Supreme Court recently requested comment on proposed amendments to TSC Rule 6 that would require new attorneys to complete a Tennessee Law Course within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar. The Tennessee Bar Association has a working group on this issue and will be drafting comments in response to the court's Order for Comment. To ensure this comment best reflects members’ views and positions, the groups is looking for your feedback. Share your thoughts about the proposed amendments through this form by June 8.
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    May 23 Last Day to Book Hotel for TBA Convention

    Time’s running out to book your stay at The Peabody Hotel for the 2018 TBA Convention in Memphis, June 13-16. The last day to reserve a room at the TBA discounted rate is May 23. Don’t miss out on our Bench/Bar CLE, the gubernatorial forum, attorney well-being program or the Ducks! Make your reservation by calling the Peabody’s Reservation Department at 800-Peabody.
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    Rap Icon Loses Trademark Battle to Gynecologist

    Rap pioneer Andre “Dr. Dre” Young lost a trademark dispute against Pennsylvania gynecologist Draion M. Burch on May 3, ending a years-long legal battle between the rapper and the practicing doctor, The Washington Post reports. Dr. Dre filed a lawsuit in 2015, arguing Burch’s use of the moniker “Dr. Drai” would cause “confusion” among consumers. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shot down the claim, maintaining the rapper failed to show people would be misled by Burch’s Dr. Drai branding and purchase his products thinking they were Dr. Dre’s.
     
    Dr. Drai hosts sex education classes for adults and teens, and is featured on webinars titled, “What Your Mama Didn’t Tell You About Making Babies” and has authored several books, including “20 Things You May Not Know About the Vagina.”
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    Trademark & Copyright Law Developments

    At the annual Intellectual Property Forum in the Tennessee Bar Center, IP Section Executive Council Eastern Delegate Mark Graham provided a presentation on Trademark & Copyright Law Developments for 2017-18. This informative presentation was well received, featuring timely updates on important cases affecting the practice area. You can view a summary of Graham’s presentation here.

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    Intellectual Property Section Wraps Up Successful Forum

    The TBA Intellectual Property Section recently presented its annual forum at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Attendees were treated to top-notch programming from seasoned veterans in the practice and law enforcement officials with a focus on cybersecurity. Through the dedication of the section and strong leadership, this event has become a staple for lawyers throughout the state. Thanks to the TBA Intellectual Property Section Executive Council for their time and assistance with another remarkable forum.
     
    OFFICERS
    A.J. Bahou, Chair, Bahou Miller
    Hemant Gupta, Vice-Chair, Butler Snow
    John Winemiller, Immediate Past Chair, Merchant & Gould
     
    WEST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
    Shawn Sentilles, Adams & Reese
     
    EAST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
    Doug Johnson, Miller & Martin
    Autumn Boyd, Law Office of Autumn Witt Boyd
    Judy Goans, Judy Winegar Goans, Attorney at Law
     
    MIDDLE TENNESSEE DELEGATES
    Ed Lanquist, Patterson PC
    Kevin Christopher, Ridgeline Venture Law
    Ryan Levy, Patterson Intellectual Property Law
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    USPTO Proposes Changes to the Claim Construction Standard

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday released a short “Notice of proposed rulemaking” entitled “Changes to the Claim Construction Standard for Interpreting Claims in Trial Proceedings Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board,” The National Law Review reports. The notice would replace the interpretation standard for construing unexpired patent claims that are used by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in intellectual property rights, post-grant review and the transitional program for covered business method patents, with the Phillips Standard used by district courts. 

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    Artists Sue City of Memphis for Painting Over Murals

    Twelve artists have filed suit against the city of Memphis for mistakenly painting over their murals, The Commercial Appeal reports. City workers painted over the artwork while attempting to scrub nearby murals that council members deemed “satanic.” The artists had permission from the city to paint the murals in the first place, but the artwork had been under fire from City Council member Jamita Swearangen, who requested their removal even though they did not constitute illegal graffiti.
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    U.S. Circuit Court Not Monkeying Around on Copyrights

    A federal appeals court ruled recently in a case over selfies taken by a monkey that U.S. copyright law does not allow lawsuits claiming animals have copyrights to photographs. To read more swing on over to the Mercury News for the whole story.

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    Federal Court: Monkey Has No Standing to Assert Copyright Infringement Over Selfie

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a monkey has no standing under the U.S. Copyright Act to assert copyright in selfie photos, the Associated Press reports. The case was over a monkey, named Naruto, who took a selfie of himself with an unattended camera in 2011. David Slater, the photographer who’s camera was used to take the photos, argued that the images belonged to his company, while People for the Ethical treatment of Animals (PETA), sued on behalf of the monkey, seeking financial control of the images for the benefit of the animal. The court ruled that U.S. copyright law confers the right to sue on humans. 
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    SURVEY: Proposed Amendment to Supreme Court Rule 31, Relative to Alternative Dispute Resolution

    As you may know, the Supreme Court issued a notice requesting comment on amendments to TSC Rule 31. The Tennessee Bar Association will be filing a comment in response to the proposed amendments and we need your help in drafting our response to ensure that it best reflects our members’ views and positions. Completing this brief survey will assist us in determining specific sections' positions on the proposed changes. After completion, the survey will be sent to your section's executive council, who will review the received responses, determine the section's position and relay the final comments to the TBA.
      
    The TBA has generally summarized the proposed changes, but please read the order and proposed amendments, which are provided below, for more detailed information. Please provide your responses by Monday, April 30. Thanks for your help in this endeavor.

    TAKE THE SURVEY

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    Magician Forced to Reveal Secrets in Negligence Lawsuit

    The secrets behind one of magician David Copperfield’s tricks were revealed in court documents thanks to a negligence lawsuit filed by a man who claims he was badly hurt while participating in a 2013 performance in Law Vegas, the Associated Press reports. Copperfield’s lawyers lost pretrial bids to close proceedings to the public to avoid giving away the secrets. Copperfield himself will take the stand on Wednesday in the trial.
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    Trademark, Copyright and Patent CLE

    The 2018 Intellectual Property Forum will include presentations on patent, trademark, and copyright issues when it convenes April 27 in Nashville. Practitioners may attend any or all presentations based on their learning needs. Morning sessions will focus on trademarks and copyrights while the afternoon sessions will address blockchain technology and patents.  
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    Ambassador Lighthizer Urged to Include Intellectual Property Protections in New NAFTA

    The United States Senate Finance Committee has urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to include strong copyright protections in U.S. trade agreements, including the new North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), JD Supra reports. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Senate Finance Committee Member Bill Nelson, D-Florida, sent a letter to Lighthizer on Friday expressing concerns over adequate copyright enforcement for intellectual property in global markets.
     
    Areas of concern related to NAFTA are a lack of protection for geographical indicators in trademark, the Minister of Health’s broad discretion in the disclosure of confidential information, and a lack of clarity on patent requirements in Canadian courts and Mexico’s decline in seizures of goods that violate intellectual property rights, widespread availability of pirated and counterfeit goods, and a copyright regime that is not equipped to adequately handle digital trade. You can read the full letter here.
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    Intellectual Property 2018: CLE Bytes

    The 2018 Intellectual Property Forum will be held on April 27 at the Tennessee Bar Center, and will include presentations on patent, trademark and copyright issues. Practitioners may attend any or all of the presentations based on their learning needs. The morning sessions will address viral trademarks, how to protect software using intellectual property and Supreme Court updates on trademarks and copyrights. The afternoon sessions will address blockchain technology, Supreme Court updates on patents, and patent eligibility subject matter.
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    City in China Intends to Replicate the Magic of Music City

    The city of Chengdu, China, is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build a music-fueled entertainment district in hopes to replicate the magic of Music City, reports The Tennessean. Music Row executives have been hosted on trips where Chengdu officials have unveiled their vision for their own music corridor called the Chengdu Musical Fun District, which includes several new music venues, recording studios, office space to host publishing companies and instrument makers. They were also given presentations of the incentive and rent-reduction programs that the district will offer an array of music businesses that set up shop there.

    The investment will include incentives for music businesses to set up shop in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province. It is also part of a broader effort in China to invest in copyright and open the nation up to creative commerce that has been undermined by rampant piracy. The two cities have discussed joining through the international Sister Cities program as well.

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    Services April 28 for Nashville Lawyer Dorothy Campbell

    Nashville lawyer and professor Dorothy Kathryn Campbell died on April 3 at the age of 62. Campbell was a 1980 graduate of Vanderbilt Law. She practiced in the fields of entertainment law, intellectual property and arbitration, and served as an associate professor at Middle Tennessee State university and adjunct faculty at the University of Tennessee. In 1990, she received the Red Cross Clara Barton Honor Award and a Volunteer Service Commendation from President George Bush. A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held at St. George's Episcopal Church in Nashville at 11 a.m. on April 28. In lieu of flowers, her family recommends contributions to the Red Cross.
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    Microsoft Sues Local Healthcare Company for Copyright Infringement

    Microsoft has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Nashville against local hospital operator Community Health Systems, alleging copyright infringement and willful breach of contractual obligations, the Nashville Post reports. The suit claims that CHS, in a recent sell off of subsidiaries, “intentionally facilitated the continued use of Microsoft software by the divested entities despite having no right to do so. The tech giant is seeking unspecified compensatory damages. 
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    China Warns of Retribution on Possible Tariffs Involving Intellectual Property Violations

    China’s ambassador to the U.S Cui Tiankai has warned his government is ready to hit back just as hard on trade when President Donald Trump announces the details of further action on intellectual property violations, reports Newsweek. Tiankai said if another round of tariffs or similar action is taken by Trump on intellectual property, then China “will certainly take countermeasures of the same proportion and the same scale, same intensity." “For the protection of intellectual property rights, China has been strengthening its efforts, strengthening our legal system, on this particular issue,” Tiankai told Chinese state-run television channel CGTN. “And we are making good progress. We are ready to look at the specific cases if there is any violation of the intellectual property rights ... by whoever. We are ready to deal with these issues in accordance with our own laws. And we are ready for international co-operation in this area.”
     
    The comments come after China responded to the first set of tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum with its own levies on American food imports. More trade measures against China are likely, as the U.S. responds to an investigation into the impact of intellectual property violations involving the nation. The emerging trade war between the U.S. and China has destabilized stock markets, with investors fearing a battle that harms both economies – the two largest in the world. Trump has used his national security powers to push through tariffs without the need for new legislation.
     
    Consumer technology goods from China are some of the products in the cross-hairs of a $60 billion package of tariffs approved by Trump on March 22. A list of all affected products is due in the coming days. 
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    Nashville Adams and Reese Partner Named Head of IP Team

    A Nashville partner of Adams and Reese has been chosen to lead the firm’s intellectual property division, the Nashville Post reports. Edward Playfair, who’s been with the regional firm since 2009, will step in to lead the team of 24 attorneys. Prior to working with Adams and Reese, Playfair consulted with Coca-Cola on sponsorships at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and The Masters golf tournament.
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    Federal Court Rules Against Google, Company Could Owe Billions

    A federal appeals court has ruled that Google violated the copyright of another company by using its open-source code, the ABA Journal reports. The case has wide-reaching implications for software developers over the nature of copyrighting code. The company that sued Google, Oracle, is seeking $8.8 billion in damages. Google may ask the three-judge panel to reconsider its decision, request the case be reviewed en banc, or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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    TBA Intellectual Property Section to Host Lunch at Annual Forum on April 27

    The TBA Intellectual Property Section will host a networking lunch at its annual forum in Nashville on April 27. All Intellectual Property Section members can attend the networking lunch; forum attendance is not required. Please contact Jarod Word with any questions and to register for this event. We hope to see you there!

    When: 11:45 p.m. – 12:15 p.m., CDT

    Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave N., Nashville, TN 37219

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    10 Essential Documents for Your Practice

    Instructions and rules for client file retention, list of current curse and copy of bank’s form for IOLTA access are three of the top 10 documents attorneys need for succession planning and practice management. Learn more in this 3-hour dual credit workshop with attorney Timothy Takacs.

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    Earl 'Peanutt' Montgomery sues George Jones' Widow, Record Label for $5 Million

    A frequent George Jones collaborator is suing the late country icon's widow, Concord Music Group and Cracker Barrel for releasing a long-shelved album without permission, reports The Tennessean. Earl "Peanutt" Montgomery co-wrote 73 songs cut by Jones, nearly 40 of which were released as singles by the late entertainer. Montgomery also played in Jones’ band and produced music for the late entertainer.

    Montgomery claims that in the late 1970s, Jones contacted him about an idea to collaborate with Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys on an album. Jones wanted Montgomery "to produce and own (the album) as his retirement package for all his years of service and friendship to Mr. Jones," according to the lawsuit. The album was eventually shelved as Jones entered into several different recording contracts delaying its release.

    As the producer, Montgomery maintained possession of the original mixed version of the album, but the master tapes were kept in the vault at Doc's Place Recording Studios in Nashville. Despite several attempts to work out a deal with CBS and then Sony Records, the long-lost album "George Jones & the Smoky Mountain Boys" was not released.

    Subsequent to his death, Jones’s widow Nancy Jones entered into an agreement to sell his intellectual property and other assets to Concord, which owns Rounder Records, for a reported $30 million. In 2017, Concord entered into an agreement to release "George Jones & the Smoky Mountain Boys" through Cracker Barrel. The album is also on streaming services, including Spotify. "The release further misrepresents the album as lost recordings which were discovered, when in fact recordings were converted by defendant Nancy Jones and ultimately the Concord defendants with full knowledge of (Montgomery's) ownership," the lawsuit states.

    Even though Montgomery produced the original recordings, he was allegedly not paid for his work or listed in the album's liner notes. Instead, two other executives, who added other musical elements to the version that was ultimately released, were credited as executive producer and project supervisor. The complaint, filed in federal court in Nashville, can be viewed here

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    Attorneys General to Congress: Preserve State's Authority Over Data Security Laws

    Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has joined other attorneys general from across the country in signing a letter urging Congress not to preempt state data breach and data security laws, including laws that require notice to consumers and state attorneys general of data breaches. In their letter to congressional leaders, the attorneys general maintain that any federal law must not diminish the role of states in addressing data breaches and identity theft.

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