A Lego toy or a real gun – that’s the question

We are all aware about toys in the form of guns used by kids for playing. However, it is rare a real gun in the form of toy to be found, a dangerous product which can cause a harm if used by children.

This is the case with the gun cover produced by the US company Culper Precision. They offer a gun cover (Block 19) in the form of a Lego toy, using the well-know design pattern typical for this type of toys. The gun under the cover is real.

Of course the Danish company sent a cease and desist letter insisting sales of such covers to be stopped immediately due to the potential misleading effect on children and possible dangerous incidents that can happen as a result.

Although Culper Precision didn’t infringe a registered trademark belonging to Lego, they used a style typical for Legos’ toys, which could mislead consumers about the product characteristics.

The US company agreed to stop producing this cover after selling 20 items of it. It will be interesting whether Lego will initiate a lawsuit for passing off for example.

Source: EAGLEGATE – Nicole Murdoch


A clash between AB InBev and Constellation Brands over CORONA

Grupo Modelo, part of one of the biggest brewery in the world Anheuser-Busch InBev, has initiated a lawsuit against the US company Constellation Brands concerning the use of trademark CORONA.

As it is well-known, AB InBev took control over Grupo Modelo in 2013 including over the Corona brand, one of the most famous brands for beer in the world. Because of antitrust restrictions, however, AB InBev sold the US part of the Grupo Modelo business to Constellation Brands including the right for use of trademark CORONA for beer.

In 2020, Constellation launched its new product Corona Hard Seltzer that shortly took 6% market share.

According to Grupo Modelo, the fact that Constellation uses Corona for seltzer was against the license’s terms.

On the other hand, the US company stated that there was no violation of the agreement and the only reason for the lawsuit was an attempt by AB InBev to restrict its business as a competitor.

We are expecting to see what the result of this dispute will be. Nevertheless the case is indicative how important the precise wording and the scope of a trademark license agreement are. It is always recommendable all points to be discussed in-depth and carefully in order future misunderstanding to be avoided.

Source: Reuters.

A fight for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s “Mara” character

The photographer and writer Clayton Haugen has initiated a copyright lawsuit against the video maker Activision Blizzard.

The case and hand concerns the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. According to Clayton Haugen one of the characters part of the game “Mara” is copied from a character called Cade Janus created by him.

In 2017, Haugen hired a model and took photos for the action character Cade Janus. Later on, Activisation hired the same model for a photo session for the game using similar makeup, style and clothes.

According to the photographer in that way the company copied his own character. Evidence for this was the fact that both the model and the makeup professional were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, which he believes was an attempt the video maker to conceal the copyright infringement, that is to say the they use elements and inspiration from the Cade Janus.

Clayton Haugen registered his photographs that cover his character in the US Copyright Office.

The dispute arise some interesting questions. For example, is using similar makeup, style and clothes can constitute copyright infringement of photographers that are taken by different photographers. In addition, to what extent there is a copyright infringement over the character itself.

Source: WIPR.

The US Congress creates a new path for copyright enforcement

The United States Congress created a Copyright Claims Board through The Consolidated Appropriations Act signed by Donald Trump in December last year.

The Copyright Claims Board will be a part of the US Copyright Office and will deal with copyright infringement claims, claims seeking a declaration of no infringement, certain claims arising under the notice and takedown provisions of the DMCA, and related defenses and counterclaims.

The Board will be a substitute for Court proceedings in such cases, and will be able to award damages up to 30 000 dollars and up to 5000 dollars for Attorneys’ fees.

The Copyright Claims Board will have three “Copyright Claims Officers” who will be appointed by the Librarian of Congress.

The procedure before the Board will be completely voluntary which means that the parties against whom an action is brought will have 60 days to “opt out”. In such cases the copyright holder has to bring the case to federal court.

The Board’s decision can be appealed before the US Copyright Office and in some limited cases before the court.

According to the supporters of this new option, it will allow small copyright owners to defend their rights without the need to go to court where the procedure is more expensive and time-consuming.

Some critics, however, consider this proceeding as not completely effective because it denies certain due process rights and the opt-out option can prevent the dispute to be initiated at all.

Source: Mintz – Seth A. Davidson for Lexology.

To what extent can UpWork use the word Freelancer?

The popular platform for freelance services UpWork won a trademark dispute against its rival Freelancer in the US.

The case at hand concerns the way how UpWork use the word Freelancer for its apps.

According to Freelancer, Upwork uses this word as an indication of its app in Apple and Google stores, which is a problem for the company that owns trademarks for FREELANCER in classes 9, 35, 36, 45.

The Court in California, however, dismissed this claim. In the case of low distinctive and descriptive trademarks with limited protection, other market participants can use the descriptive word insofar this use is not a trademark one and serves only for description purposes related to the relevant goods and services.

In the case of UpWork, they did exactly this, using the word Freelancer as a descriptive term. There was no possibilities for consumer confusion because the UpWork logo was completely different based on which consumers can distinguish both apps clearly.

Daren Tang is the new WIPO General Director

Daren Tang officially become Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization. He succeeds Francis Gurry in this position after tense election in the light of the economic and political conflict between the US and China.

Mr. Tang is a former Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and will serve as WIPO General Director for a mandate of six years.

For more information here.

Blog’s and social media posts with easier copyright registration in the US

The US Copyright Office announced it new form for registration of copyrighted works. It will allow authors of short posts in blogs or social media to register their works faster and easily.

However, in order to receive a registration, all works never mind how short they are, have to meet all requirements of the Copyright law for such protection.

As it is well-known, although copyright registration is not mandatory in the US, it provides authors with some advantages when it comes to lawsuits for copyright infringements.

According to the announcement:

Applicants may register up to fifty short online literary works per application. To qualify, each work must contain at least 50 but no more than 17,500 words. The works must be created by the same individual, or jointly by the same individuals, and each creator must be named as the copyright claimant or claimants for each work. The works must all be published online within a three-calendar-month period. If the Office registers the claim, the registration will cover each work as a separate work of authorship.

For more information here.

If you want to learn what is the connection between photography and copyright, including how to register a photo with the US Patent Office, check this upcoming Udemy course – Photography and copyright – A Complete guide for photographers.