Whistleblower Wants to Blow Off NDA

10 10 2018

 

Dear Rich: An IP property blog

Oct 9, 2018

Dear Rich: Does an NDA (nondisclosure agreement) prevent me from reporting illegal activity at work?
A whistleblower — an employee who has a reasonable belief that an employer is violating the law and who reports the violation — is often protected from retaliation by a patchwork of whistleblower laws. . .

For all these reasons, and because of the risks involved in whistleblowing, an attorney’s advice is essential.

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Trademark Ownership Based on Actual Use

10 10 2018

Lex Blog

James R. Sonny Chastain, Jr.

Oct. 9, 2018

The Federal Circuit in Lyons v. American College of Veterinarian Sports Medicine, 859 F. 3d 1023 (Fed. Cir. 2017) addressed trademark ownership, distinguishing between an idea, concept, mere preparation to use and actual use.   Between 1999 and 2001 Sheila Lyons and other veterinarians formed an organizing committee and began using the mark “The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation” as the name of its veterinary specialist organization.   In 2002, Lyons participated in drafting a letter of intent and working with the organization to create a petition to seek accreditation.  She drafted by-laws which she presented to the organizing committee.   Thereafter, she was dismissed from the organizing committee for reasons not at issue.

After her dismissal, Lyons sought registration of the mark for “veterinary education services.”  She obtained the registration on the Supplemental Register of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office claiming she used it in commerce.   Thereafter, the organization was granted provisional recognition as “The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation” as a Colorado non-profit organization.

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Twitter Isn’t Liable for Impersonation Account–Dehen v. Doe

26 09 2018

Technology & Marketing Law Blog

Eric Goldman

Sept. 24, 2018

Tiffany Dehen is a 2016 alumna of University of San Diego’s law school. Her website declares that she is “a true American and Patriotic Trump Supporter,” and her photo album includes a photo of her smiling with Dinesh D’Souza. She claims that an unidentified person created a “parody” Twitter account that used her photo and posted objectionable content. She reported the account to Twitter and, after a few days, the account was disabled. You can read more about her motivations for filing this lawsuit in an Above the Law interview. Dehen sued several defendants; I’ll focus on Twitter’s liability.

 

Case citation: Dehen v. Doe, 2018 WL 4502336 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 18, 2018). Dehen’s website has an archive of case filings.

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Patent Litigation Still Brings in Huge Awards

26 09 2018

Blawg It
Brett Trout

July 31, 2018

IBM’s intellectual-property licensing business, which owns over 45,000 patents, and which brought in nearly $1.2 billion in revenue last year put one more feather in its cap last Friday. The jury in IBM v. Groupon Inc., 16-cv-122 awarded IBM $83 million in damages. In what may turn out to be even worse news for Groupon, the jury also found Groupon’s infringement to be willful, allowing the judge to triple the damage award and order Groupon to pay IBM’s attorney fees.

Despite securing more U.S. patents over the past 25 years than any other company, and investing nearly $6 billion annually in research and development, IBM v. Groupon Inc. is the first patent infringement case IBM has brought to a jury in over two decades. Why has IBM been so reticent to bring patent infringement cases to a jury? It is important to note that IBM is not alone. Between 2013 and 2015 there was a 26% drop in the number of patent infringement lawsuits filed. And there was another 22% drop in cases filed between 2015 and 2016.

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Sorry, Sony Music, you don’t own the rights to Bach’s music on Facebook

24 09 2018

Ars Technica

TIMOTHY B. LEE – 9/14/2018,

Sony Music Entertainment has been forced to abandon its claim that it owned 47 seconds of video of musician James Rhodes using his own piano to play music written by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Last week, Rhodes recorded a short video of himself playing a portion of Bach’s first Partita and posted it to Facebook. Bach died in 1750, so the music is obviously in the public domain. But that didn’t stop Sony from claiming the rights to the audio in Partita’s video.

“Your video matches 47 seconds of audio owned by Sony Music Entertainment,” said a notice Rhodes received on Facebook. Facebook responded by muting the audio in Rhodes’ video.

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The content in this post was found at https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/09/sorry-sony-music-you-dont-own-the-rights-to-bachs-music-on-facebook/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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What’s in the sweeping copyright bill just passed by the European Parliament

24 09 2018

Ars Technica

Timothy Lee

9-12-18

The European Parliament has approved a package of dramatic changes to copyright law that will have big implications for the future of the Internet.

“We’re enormously disappointed that MEPs [Members of European Parliament] failed to listen to the concerns of their constituents and the wider Internet,” said Danny O’Brien, an analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The legislation makes online platforms like Google and Facebook directly liable for content uploaded by their users and mandates greater “cooperation” with copyright holders to police the uploading of infringing works. It also gives news publishers a new, special right to restrict how their stories are featured by news aggregators such as Google News. And it creates a new right for sports teams that could limit the ability of fans to share images and videos online.

Ars Technica

TIMOTHY B. LEE –

9/12/2018

The European Parliament has approved a package of dramatic changes to copyright law that will have big implications for the future of the Internet.

“We’re enormously disappointed that MEPs [Members of European Parliament] failed to listen to the concerns of their constituents and the wider Internet,” said Danny O’Brien, an analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The legislation makes online platforms like Google and Facebook directly liable for content uploaded by their users and mandates greater “cooperation” with copyright holders to police the uploading of infringing works. It also gives news publishers a new, special right to restrict how their stories are featured by news aggregators such as Google News. And it creates a new right for sports teams that could limit the ability of fans to share images and videos online.

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The content in this post was found at https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/09/european-parliament-approves-copyright-bill-slammed-by-digital-rights-groups/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post. and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Guest Post: Hip-Hop Is Dead: Understanding the Issues Regarding Digital Sampling in the U.S. and Germany and the Potential Demise of an “American” Genre

23 09 2018

JetLaw

Guest post by Mark Edward Blankenship Jr.

Sept. 19, 2018

In creating the album “Hip-Hop Is Dead”, Nasir Jones, better known by his stage name Nas, postulated that hip-hop artists can help rebuild America by having more control in their music in response to a dying culture and a decline in innovation and political outreach. Yet, in subsequent interviews leading up to the album’s release, the title’s meaning began to shift and change as he responded differently at various junctures, eventually concluding in 2016 that “hip-hop is in a “better” place than it was a decade prior. Yet during that same year, the United States would end up facing a circuit split regarding the legality of digital sampling, which is still currently up for debate.

Back in 2005, the Sixth Circuit in Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films applied a per se infringement standard for sound recordings and digital sampling which many scholars criticized as being the death of hip-hop.  . . .

The de minimis defense is neither a novel nor recondite concept of copyright law, especially outside of the United States. In Kraftwerk v. Pelham (also known as Metall auf Metall), Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court [hereinafter BverfG] applied a similar standard for sound recordings two days before VMG Salsoul. . . .

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Section 230’s Success in Under-the-Radar Cases

23 09 2018

Technology & Marketing Law Blog

Eric Goldman

Sept. 21, 2018

For every high-stakes Section 230 case that gets widespread coverage, I see many other low-profile cases–often pro se–where Section 230 works as we all expect. These rulings usually aren’t super-interesting because they confirm the status quo. However, they provide a good barometer of Section 230’s health as an immunity. Without Section 230 quickly cleaning up these cases, the courts would likely be flooded with thousands of similar cases, most of which would be flatly unmeritorious, and the collective effect of which would be to move defendants closer to death-by-one-thousand-duck-bites.

In this post, I’ll share four recent Section 230 cases that flew under the radar but, collectively, demonstrate the quietly powerful role that Section 230 plays in managing our litigious society. Because their complaints are so convoluted and pro se litigants love to threaten me with defamation, I’m just going to blockquote the courts’ applicable discussion.

DeLima v. YouTube

 

Lee v. OfferUp, Inc., 2018 WL 4283371 (E.D. La. Sept. 7, 2018):

 

Fehrenbach v. Zeldin, 2018 WL 4242452 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 6, 2018):

 

Shulman v. Facebook.com, 2018 WL 3344236 (D.N.J. July 9, 2018):

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Departing Employee Required to Transfer Social Media Accounts–Hyperheal Hyperbarics v. Shapiro

23 09 2018

Technology & Marketing Law Blog

by Venkat Balasubramani

Sept. 22, 2018

This is an ownership dispute over a departing employee’s right to use social media accounts and trademarks of an employer. The facts are somewhat atypical.

Shapiro founded a company called Hyperheal Hyperbarics to provide “hyperbaric oxygen therapy”. In 2014, the business was struggling and raised money from an investor, Samer Saiedy. Saiedy again put in money in 2015. Due to these cash infusions, Shapiro became a minority shareholder (owning 2.38%) and employee. In 2016, he was terminated. He was rehired in 2017 as an employee (he still retained his minority stake) but terminated again in 2018. Before being hired in 2017, he signed an employment agreement restricting his participation in social media on behalf of Hyperheal and agreeing to turn over unspecified social media accounts relating to Hyperheal. As part of the agreement, Shapiro also relinquished all rights in Hyperheal’s intellectual property.

After his 2016 termination, Shapiro filed a trademark application for “Hyperheal Hyperbarics, Inc.” In February 2017, prior to being rehired, the USPTO sent Shapiro an office action refusing his registration due to a previously filed mark (filed by Dr. Tommy Love).

After being hired in 2017, Shapiro ostensibly transferred over some social media accounts and domain names to the company. He did not mention the pending trademark application or office action. Because he never responded to the office action, the PTO deemed his application abandoned.

After his 2018 termination, Shapiro again applied to register a “Hyperheal Hyperbarics” trademark. This time, he bought Dr. Love’s interests in the trademarks. Shapiro also convinced GoDaddy to transfer the Hyperheal domain names back to him. He also told LinkedIn that Hyperheal infringed on Shapiro’s mark. Linkedin transferred control of the company account to Shapiro. Shapiro similarly contacted Twitter and Facebook. (The court does not describe the outcome of his efforts to pressure those companies into transferring accounts to Shapiro.)

Case citation: Hyperheal Hyperbarics v. Shapiro, 2018 WL 4257331 (D. Md. Sept 6, 2018).

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Congressional Research Service Reports Now Officially Publicly Available

19 09 2018

TechDirt

For many, many years we’ve been writing about the ridiculousness of the Congressional Research Service’s reports being kept secret. If you don’t know, CRS is a sort of in-house think tank for Congress, that does, careful, thoughtful, non-partisan research on a variety of topics (sometimes tasked by members of Congress, sometimes of its own volition). The reports are usually quite thorough and free of political nonsense. Since the reports are created by the federal government, they are technically in the public domain, but many in Congress (including many who work at CRS itself) have long resisted requests to make those works public. Instead, we were left with relying on members of Congress themselves to occasionally (and selectively) share reports with the public, rather than giving everyone access to the reports. . . .

And, this week, it has come to pass. As announced by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, there is now an official site to find CRS reports at crsreports.congress.gov.

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