Photography / Arts / Design

Copyright Protection for Food – Perishable?

Kim Seng Co. v. J & A Importers, Inc., 810 F. Supp. 2d 1046 (C.D. Cal. 2011)

In Kim Seng Co. v. J & A Importers, Inc., a California District Court considered the copyrightability of a food display. Kim Seng Co., (“Kim Seng”), a Chinese-Vietnam food supply company sued another Chinese-Vietnam food supplier, J & A Importers, Inc. (“J & A Importers”), for using an image of a bowl of food on product packaging for rice sticks. Kim Seng alleged copyright and trade dress infringement for using its product packaging. And also interestingly, it sued J&A for copyright infringement of the food display itself. Continue reading

Artist Wins Touchdown Against University for his Paintings

An artist’s right to incorporate trademarks in expressive works pits the artist’s fundamental right of freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment, against the desire of a trademark owner to aggressively control the licensing of merchandise based on its trademarks. And when the artwork involves a much-loved college sports team, the tension runs deep. On June 11th 2012 the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reached a decision in the much anticipated University of Alabama Board of Trustees v New Life Art Inc. case. The case chronicles the legal saga between the University of Alabama and Daniel Moore, a long time sports painter of football scenes for the University in which the Artist came out the victor, essentially winning a touchdown for advocates of art as expressive work, free from the restraints of trademark law. Continue reading

Buzz Aldrin Grounded

The Topps Company recently released a set of “American Heroes” trading cards which include well-known politicians, actors, athletes, scientists and events. Famed astronaut Buzz Aldrin attempted to block the release of certain cards believing the cards improperly incorporate his name, likeness and image in a commercial manner. The cards in question include the famous “Visor Shot” image of Aldrin on the outside of the cardboard box packaging, a mission card, and a “signature cut” card which contains original signatures taken from other documents. Continue reading

Good Day for Green Day: Judge Rules in Favor of Fair Use

In a lawsuit against the band Green Day, by Derek Seltzer (an L.A. Based Artist), the U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of Green Day in a motion for summary judgment on the basis of their fair use defense. Seltzer accused Green Day of violating his intellectual property rights through their unauthorized use of, and by altering, Seltzer’s notorious work, “Scream Icon”. Green Day’s use of the work appeared in a video backdrop during live performances of their song East Jesus Nowhere, throughout their 2009 tour. Continue reading

What’s Protectable?: Claim of Copyright Infringement of LaChapelle’s Photos in Rihanna’s ‘S&M’

Shira Scheindlin, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York, recently denied Robin “Rihanna” Fenty’s (“Rihanna”) Motion to Dismiss the copyright infringement element of a claim instituted by famed photographer David LaChapelle regarding Rihanna’s highly sensationalized ‘S&M’ video. LaChapelle asserts that the protectable elements of eight of his photographs were used in the creation of the video. The court ruled that LaChapelle successfully proved that a Motion to Dismiss was improper because the video was “substantially similar to particular original expressions of the subjects in the photos.” Continue reading