Saturday, March 31, 2012

True Religion Goes After Chinese Counterfeiters

The saga continues.  True Religion jeans maker just obtained a $864 million judgment against online Chinese counterfeiters.  About 280 Chinese websites using domain names like, were selling counterfeit goods and infringing on True Religions' trademarks.  Not surprisingly, the Chinese companies did not appear in court.  As such, the New York Federal Court issued a default judgment for the $864 million amount, as well as ordered that the companies shut down the infringing websites, or any other websites that they created in the future to infringe upon True Religion's marks or to sell counterfeit True Religion products. 

Of course, the trick for True Religion will be to collect on the judgment.  This is probably simply more of an ongoing problem with Chinese companies who are paid by American companies to make their goods because the labor costs are cheaper in China.  Those Chinese companies then take the information provided by the American companies to make counterfeit goods.  Kudos to True Religion for standing up for their rights.

Now, if only they made jeans for us soccer player types!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nissan is Bringing Back the Datsun Brand

A long time ago, I wrote an article for the local Chamber of Commerce publication discussing how Silver Oak Winery had such a strong brand for its Cabernet that it did not want to use it for its Merlot.  The article can be found here: 

Recently, Nissan has done something similar with its Datsun brand.  For those of you who are old enough to remember the Datsun 240, 260, and 280Z or the Datsun 510, you may remember the seemingly strange decision by Nissan to phase out the Datsun brand.  Indeed, even now several auto makers have a multitude of lines of brands (Toyota/Lexus, Cadillac/Chevrolet/GMC/Buick, Ford/Lincoln, etc.).  Even Nissan reversed course and began selling its luxury cars under the Infinity brand just a few years after it phased out the Datsun brand.

Well, now after over 30 years in hibernation (since 1981), the Datsun brand is coming back.  Albeit, Nissan is limiting the Datsun brand to developing markets because the Datsun vehicles will be small, inexpensive cars made to appeal to those markets.  Nissan certainly does not want its no frills vehicles tarnishing or lessening the reputation of the Nissan name.  Now, for those of you who may pine for the 240-280Z, you will be sad to hear that Nissan does not plan to bring back those cars any time soon. 

Just another example of how one's own marketing strategies or branding can come full circle.  It is always a good idea to evaluate your brands to ensure that they are as strong as a Cabernet.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Lawsuit Claims that Wiz Khalifa Stole "Black and Yellow"

One of my favorite songs to spin to was a remix of Wiz Khalifa's song, "Black and Yellow."  Now, according to a lawsuit filed by Max Gregory Warren, the song was not Khalifa's but Warren's.  Warren claims that he wrote a song entitled "Pink and Yellow," in November, 2007.  In February, 2008, he obtained a copyright registration for the song.  Warren seeks over $ 2 million in damages.

An early question in the lawsuit is whether Warren still owns the copyright for his song.  Usually, songwriters sign over any of their copyright rights when they sign with a recording label.  After that, the question will turn to whether the songs are actually substantially similar enough to warrant a finding of infringement.  Having heard both songs, there are some similarities.  Are there enough similarities?  Only a judge and jury will be able to tell us that.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dog Owner Must Take Down Billboard Depicting Dog Dressed As Ellen

Sometimes I think that intellectual property attorneys have no sense of humor.  A lawyer for a billboard company made a dog owner trying to get her dog on the Ellen DeGeneres show take down her billboard depicting her dog dressed like Ellen.  The billboard attorney claims that the Ellen DeGeneres show asked to have the billboard taken down, but representatives for the show said they did not know about the sign.  Another interesting twist is that some billboard salesmen recommended that the dog owner dress her dog as Ellen rather than Elvis--her initial plan was the Elvis idea.  Based on their recommendation that an Ellen dog would more likely succeed in getting on Ms. DeGeneres' show, she changed her plan. 

It would be one thing if Ms. DeGeneres wanted the sign taken down.  And, yes, the billboard company may be held contributorily liable for infringement of Ms. DeGeneres' name and likeness, but it seems to me that Ms. DeGeneres should be the one to make that call.  Who knows? Maybe Ms. DeGeneres appreciates the free publicity and thinks the sign is funny rather than offensive?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Holy Copyrights, Batman! The Batmobile is Copyrightable!

DC Comics sued the owner of Gotham Garage over the look of the Batmobile.  Apparently, Gotham Garage creates replica Batmobiles to comic book fans with disposable cash.  DC Comics and its parent company, Warner Brothers, sued Gotham Garage over these replicas.  DC Comics and Warner Brothers argues that the replicas violate their copyrights and trademarks. 

In a preliminary ruling, a Federal judge said that the design elements of the car are not functional, and therefore, may be the subject of copyright protection.  Now, that DC and Warner have overcome this preliminary obstacle, they must now convince the judge that they own a valid copyright in the design to the Batmobile.  That is, of course, if Gotham Garage still puts up a fight.  Presumably, DC and Warner have a bigger war chest than Gotham Garage. 

Tune again for an update . . . Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel . . .