By: Kristen Van Dyke
Halloween stores sell costumes that clearly mimic the appearance of well-known fictional characters. Profiting from consumers’ association of these costumes with the fictional characters they resemble potentially infringes trademark rights. So why haven’t these Halloween stores been sued yet? This blog explores how the uncertainty of fictional character trademark law and additional non-legal considerations may be tipping the scales away from litigation.
By: Taylor Pernini
The Supreme Court recently received a petition for a writ of cert from the Moodsters Company, which sued Disney for copyright infringement over the emotional characters from the movie “Inside Out”. The Supreme Court has never ruled on character copyright, making the jurisprudence a mess of conflicting circuit tests. The Moodsters lost at the Ninth Circuit under the stringent Towle test and now allege that none of the current circuit tests fit the key purposes of copyright. They might be right—the Supreme Court’s focus should be on uniqueness and originality—but it is still unlikely that they win under that standard. This blog will address the differing circuit tests, why each one suffers weaknesses in copyright law, and what the appropriate standard should be going forward.
By: Abbey Duhé
Cloud computing, whether that refers to data storage or service models like Software as a Service (SaaS) offers businesses an attractive cost-saving opportunity but leaves users at risk of losing valuable trade secrets. This blog post argues that the current avenues for legal recourse, though bountiful, are not enough to actually protect the value of these assets. The cloud computing industry imposes expanding demands on the reasonableness requirements to keep trade secret information confidential, but merely provides as a default the opportunity to litigate once the trade secret has already been lost. Solutions for companies may include keeping trade secret information out of the cloud altogether, but also more formalized standards to adapt to growing cybersecurity concerns.
By: Brittany Blanchard
The pleading standard for copyright infringement claims is shockingly unsettled. It is unclear what elements must be pled to establish the claim and what proof is required for those elements. Despite this ambiguity in the law, the Supreme Court has not clarified this issue. This lack of clarity has resulted in a Ninth Circuit case being stuck in the complaint stage for four years. H&M and Malibu Textiles have spent the past four years litigating the issue of what is required in pleading copyright infringement claims. This case exemplifies the harm in a lack of a judicially establish pleading standard for copyright infringement claims. The Ninth Circuit decision in the H&M case lowers the pleading standard beyond what is established in Supreme Court precedent and argues that the Supreme Court decision not to review this case means that the law in this area will continue to be ambiguous.
By: Grant Daniel Cole
The power struggle between the federal and state governments is a hallmark of the American Legal system. With the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Allen v. Cooper, 140 S. Ct. 994, (2020), the balance of power has shifted back to the states. The Court in Allen held that Congress lacked the constitutional authority to abrogate States’ Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity and allow States to be sued in federal court for copyright infringement. Thus, the CRCA, the statute Congress passed that purportedly abrogated States’ sovereign immunity from copyright suits, was deemed unconstitutional. However, the Court in Allen should have held the statute was constitutional as applied underUnited States v. Georgia rationale.Furthermore, despite holding that the CRCA was unconstitutional, the Court lays out a blueprint for further legislative action. This post explores both the alternative arguments in Allen and the impact the case will have on future legislative action in this area.