Arguably one of the “most vexing” questions in all of copyright law will be answered this year.  Or at least that is what many in the furniture and fashion industry are hoping.

The question is what test should be used to determine when a feature of a “useful article” is protectable under the copyright laws. 

Whole Foods recently garnered attention when its trademark application for World’s Healthiest Grocery Store was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  The trademark examiner focused on the “World’s Healthiest” part of the proposed mark and found the phrase simply described an alleged benefit of Whole Foods’ products, rather than indicating a source

Are you relying on your insurance policy to cover unauthorized or unintended electronic disclosure of confidential information?  If so, you may want to take a closer look at your policy with an eye towards objections to coverage raised by an insurance company in a recent Fourth Circuit case.

In Travelers Indemnity Co. of America v.

In this third and final blog of our series on social media promotion we are looking at use of content posted by others, particularly in the context of “linking” and “framing.”

“Linking” is a well-known method of providing an Internet user with the ability to jump from one site or page to another via hyperlink.  The link may redirect the user to content posted by others with no connection to the host site.  “Framing” is similar to linking but the user views the third-party content in a window or “frame” on the host site.  This distinction may be significant because without redirection the user may be unaware that the framed content is being generated by a third party.

There are a number of legal issues that may be implicated by linking and framing, including contract, trademark and copyright law.  Many social media providers include terms of use that place restrictions on the use of content available through their service.  Linking or framing may violate those restrictions, which could lead to account deactivation and the like.  Deactivation can be a significant problem for commercial users who use those sites for promotion and customer interaction.
Continue Reading Social Media Promotion: Dos and Don’ts with Content Posted by Others

In this second blog of our series on social media promotion we are looking at the use of names – of people, brands or businesses – and likenesses.

Areas of law that often arise at the juncture of names and likenesses, and social media, are the right of publicity, trademark protection and defamation.  Although there are variations in different jurisdictions, the right of publicity generally provides that each person has the exclusive right to commercially exploit their own name and likeness; use by anyone else requires permission.  Trademark laws also protect names, but the focus is on the impact on the public:  where a company’s use of a name is likely to cause the public to be confused about the source of products or services that use is usually prohibited.  Defamation is a false statement made, e.g., via social media, which causes harm to an individual or business, such as a derogatory statement that hurts the individual’s reputation and as a result diminishes the economic value of that person’s name and likeness.
Continue Reading Social Media Promotion: Dos And Don’ts With Names And Likenesses