2.25.2015

The Jiminian Law PLLC News Clipboard - 2.25.15

The stories I found interesting this week in Media/Entertainment, Business, IP and Nonprofits.

Media/Entertainment

  • Republican Congress to Try to Convert Net Neutrality Into a Benghazi-like Controversy for Obama
    • The Federal Communications Commission is on the precipice of voting this week to enact White House-backed regulations that would reclassify broadband Internet as a utility and block so-called "fast lanes" on mobile and Internet devices. Republicans in Congress and on the 2016 campaign trail already have shown an eagerness to portray the vote as another example of executive overreach by the Obama administration. They plan to continue slamming the president for avoiding Congress in a similar vein to recent executive actions on immigration, Cuba, and environmental regulations.
  • The 'Blurred Lines' Trial Begins with Jury Selection, Robin Thicke and Pharrel Williams Expected to Attend Trial
    • The jury selection process kicked off the festivities and included an unusual question: Who was offended by the music video for "Blurred Lines," which features bare-chested, nearly nude women? Some responded they couldn't remain impartial.
  • Hollywood Docket: 'Walk of Shame'; Viacom Settles With B. Scott; 'Fifty Shades' Publishing
    • A roundup of entertainment law news including director Albert Hughes still seeking money for the aborted "Motor City."
  • Pandora Dealt Setback in Turtles Lawsuit
    • Pandora responded with an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the Flo & Eddie suit. In making its case, Pandora asserted that like anyone who buys a copy of a sound recording, it has a free speech right to play those recordings in any manner it desires without obtaining authorization from Flo & Eddie to do so. So Judge Guiterrez denied Pandora's anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss, as anticipated. But that denial now allows Pandora to file an appeal, which could move the case to another judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since Pandora knows which way Judge Guiterrez is thinking on the pre-1972 issue, it wants to take its arguments to a different judge.
  • Lil Wayne Breaks Silence on Cash Money Lawsuit, 'Free Weezy Album'
    • In a 21-page document filed with a federal court in New York on January 28th, Wayne sued Cash Money for $51 million, citing a wide range of alleged financial misdeeds. Among other things, the lawsuit claimed that Cash Money withheld key accounting documents from Wayne, and that the label owes him $8 million for Tha Carter V under a 2012 deal that guaranteed a staggering $10 million advance per album. 
  • Use of Iconic 9-11 Photo in FOX TV Show’s Facebook Stream Not Fair Use
    • This reminds me a bit of Morel. The defendant is an established media entity, with a producer that had received training on fair use (but not with respect to this image). Nevertheless, a single image sourced from the wrong place and used in the social stream creates a giant headache. Perhaps this just illustrates the “photos are different” rule in action. This type of ruling is perhaps the reason why bloggers and websites are well advised to never simply search for an image and use it in a post or article.
  • News Photo Falsely Implicated Firefighter in Sex Scandal
    • The placement of a Philadelphia firefighter’s photograph to illustrate a New York newspaper’s online article about an alleged sex scandal in the department falsely implicated the firefighter’s involvement in the scandal, according to a libel suit filed earlier this month at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Francis Cheney II, of Philadelphia, seeks compensatory and punitive damages on three counts against the New York Daily News Company – including invasion of privacy, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress – for an article published on its website on Jan. 29.
  • The Right of Publicity: An Often Overlooked Asset in Estate Planning 
    • The Bosh and Howard lawsuits, and others like them that have popped up in recent years, reflect a growing trend – namely, that of famous athletes and celebrities asserting their “right of publicity” to prevent others from commercially exploiting their name, likeness, or image without their prior approval. As discussed herein, the right of publicity has only recently emerged as an important asset that must be considered by estate practitioners when planning or filing for their more well-known clientele.
  • Comcast Net Income Edges Up, Boosts Dividend, Plans Share Buyback
    • Comcast Corp.'s fourth-quarter net income edged up less than 1 percent as the company added more customers for its cable TV, high-speed Internet and phone services. The nation's largest cable provider also raised its dividend and said it would repurchase $10 billion in stock. Its shares edged up in morning trading Tuesday. Comcast is in the midst of a $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable that is undergoing a regulatory review. The company said it hopes to have that deal approved early this year.
Business 

Intellectual Property
  • Security, Privacy and the Law Update on President Obama’s “Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection,” Part II: The Executive Order
  • Innovation Act Needed More Than Ever As Patent Trolls Roll On
    • When considering whether reform is needed, it is important not to lose sight of the massive and sustained increase in patent troll litigation over the past decade. To illustrate how much troll litigation has surged, there were more cases filed by patent trolls in one month in January 2015 than in the entire year of 2004. (Trolls filed 250 cases last month as compared to 234 cases in all of 2004, Even accounting for the impact of the America Invents Act’s anti-joinder rule, that is an astonishing increase.) Although there was a small decline in litigation in 2014, patent trolling exploded over the past decade and remains at historically high levels. This litigation is overwhelmingly a tax on innovation and does nothing to promote the deployment of new technology.
  • Patent Reform: Innovation Act of 2015
    • The bill as introduced includes the following provisions:
      • Heightened Pleading Requirements  
      • Presumption of Attorney Fees  
      • IPR Claim Construction  
      • Discovery Limits  
      • Willful Infringement  
      • Transparency of Ownership  
      • Stay of Customer Suits  
      • Foreign Bankruptcy  
      • Codifying Double Patenting
  • Apple Ordered To Pay $533 Million For Patent Infringement
    • Apple Inc has been ordered to pay $532.9 million after a federal jury in Texas found that its iTunes software infringed three patents owned by patent licensing firm Smartflash LLC. Though Smartflash had been asking for $852 million in damages, Tuesday night's verdict was still a blow to Apple. The jury, which deliberated for eight hours, determined Apple had not only used Smartflash's patents without permission, but did so willfully. Apple, which said it would appeal, said the outcome was another reason reform was needed in the patent system to curb litigation by companies that don't make products themselves.
  • Sony’s trademark for The Last Guardian has expired again
    • “Based solely on the history of this application, this indicates that at some point in 2012, Sony planned to create a game titled ‘The Last Guardian,'” said Saivar. “They filed what’s called an ‘intent-to-use’ application which means they weren’t using that title yet, but planned to at some point in the future” Saivar explains that the USPTO reviewed the application and found everything was in order. The next step for the agency was to order a “Notice of Allowance” to Sony. This is a three-year registration period that is broken up into six-month chunks. Every half year, Sony has to check in with the USPTO with a “Statement of Use.” This is when Sony can either show how it is using the trademark or it can ask for an extension. “Sony filed three such extensions to keep the application alive,” said Saivar. “However, they had another Jan. 15, 2015 deadline to file an extension and they did nothing. This indicates that, unless they blew the deadline unwittingly, they have no further intention of using that title.”
  • Former Two Sigma Analyst Gao Pleads Guilty to Software Theft
    • A former analyst at the quantitative hedge fund Two Sigma pleaded guilty to taking the firm’s data, the second of five men charged in a crackdown on the theft of intellectual property from financial firms to resolve his case.
  • Washington's NFL Football Team Fight TM Ban
    • A federal government decision to cancel this NFL's team's offensive name trademark because it may be disparaging infringes on free-speech rights and unfairly singles the team out, the NFL team's lawyers argued in court papers filed Monday.

Nonprofits
  • Expedited Determination Process for 501(c)(4) Organizations
    • The Internal Revenue Service recently released a memorandum modifying and clarifying procedures for Section 501(c)(4) applicants seeking exemption after December 23, 2014, which may potentially be engaged in political campaign intervention or providing private benefit to a political party, but that otherwise do not present any issues regarding their exempt status. The memo directs the Exempt Organizations Determinations Unit (EOD) of the IRS to offer, by letter, an optional expedited process to such pending applicants. The process permits these organizations to make representations under penalties of perjury regarding their past, current, and anticipated future political campaign intervention and social welfare activity.
  • What Every Prospective Nonprofit Board Member Needs to Know
    • You have been asked to serve on the board of a nonprofit organization. Should you accept? Prospective board members should carefully consider an invitation to join a board. Before accepting, a potential board member should understand the responsibilities and duties of board membership. In addition, it is important for a potential board member to conduct due diligence regarding the organization’s structure, programs, key staff positions and financial status.
  • Read this before you co-sponsor a sweepstakes or contest
    • Before deciding if a co-sponsorship is right for your promotion, you should consider your circumstances. In most instances, the parties have significantly different roles in the sweepstakes or contest. A party that is asked to provide the prize is usually not involved in preparing the official rules or selecting the winners. Likewise, the party preparing the official rules and determining the winners may not be involved at all in procuring or delivering the prize.  Co-sponsoring a promotion under these circumstances could result in the parties being found liable for mistakes made by the other party — mistakes over which they have no control.
See ya next week!

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