Friday, February 13, 2015

Another One for the Big Firms Are Not Always the Smartest Option . . .

I have met my share of potential clients who look at me as a "lowly solo" and express that they would prefer to have that big name, big international firm represent their interests.  I always tell these potential clients to be careful what they wish for because big firms are not always the best option.  Katy Perry's "Left Shark" of Super Bowl infamy proves my point.

As some of you may or may not know, during the Super Bowl half time show, Katy Perry performed her song "California Gurls."  Her stage for this song had a beach theme and two dancing sharks on each side of her.  Needless to say, the shark on her left appeared to have either been asleep or completely absent during rehearsals.  So he (or she) made up his (her) own moves without regard to the apparent choreography.  This, in turn, provided much internet and social media fodder.  In fact, "Left Shark" became a pretty popular meme subject.

Well, to the point about big firms--that usually have several layers of staff and attorneys working on your matter at gargantuan hourly rates . . . One of Katy Perry's attorneys at Greenberg Traurig sent a gentleman in Florida, Mr. Sosa, a cease and desist letter claiming that the shark images and costumes were protected by copyright(s).  You can view the letter and the response to the letter here.

You see, Mr. Sosa began offering 3-D printed "Left Shark" figurines for a mere $25.00 a piece.   Initially, Mr. Sosa decided to stop printing the figurines and avoid the legal hassle.  However, he had a change of heart and received help from a law professor who specializes in copyright law.  Professor Sprigman responded to Greenberg Traurig's letter by pointing out the ridiculousness of claiming a shark costume as a copyright.  He also pointed out that, even if copyrightable, Ms. Perry in an interview before the show indicated that she may not have created the shark costume, and therefore, did not own the copyright.  Interestingly, the cease and desist letter does not include a registration for the shark costume copyright which means that Ms. Perry could not sue Mr. Sosa until she obtained one.  Of course, even if she tried to get a registration, it is not likely the Copyright Office would issue it for a costume. 

As I have advocated on this blog before, it is important to defend and protect your intellectual property, but you should probably actually own it before you allow big law firm to hastily fire off a cease and desist letter. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

La Liga's Valencia CF Irks DC Comics

Valencia CF recently redesigned their logo and it caught the attention of DC Comics.  The Spanish soccer club's logo, according to DC Comics, looks quite similar to Batman's calling card.  Here are the two side by side:

While Valencia has used a bat in its logo since 1919, the wings of the primary logo for the team are angling downward.  It was the change of the wing's angle upward that made DC Comics file a complaint in European Union's trademark organization.

Of note is that the batman logo originally appeared in 1939 and it has undergone variations in that time as well.  It will be interesting to see the results of DC Comics' lawsuit.