Written by: Susan Neuberger Weller

When you think of The Hershey Company, you think of delicious chocolate candy bars, chocolate kisses, and a fabulous amusement park in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The company’s brown candy bar wrappers with the HERSHEY’S trademark prominently displayed on the front have been in use since, at least, 1905, and the company owns numerous US trademark registrations for this version of this mark for candy and other products. However, Hershey is not so sweet on a Maryland State Senator Steve Hershey’s chocolate-colored campaign signs which, it claims, bear a striking resemblance to its famous trademark and trade dress, and has filed suit against the Senator for trademark infringement and related claims. A side-by-side comparison of the Hershey trademark and Senator Hershey’s chocolate-colored campaign signs are displayed in the Complaint and in connection with an article in The Baltimore Sun newspaper. Continue Reading Hershey Is Not So Sweet on Maryland Senator’s HERSHEY Campaign Logo

Written by: Susan Neuberger Weller

The iconic “Raising the Flag at Ground Zero” photo of firemen raising an American flag on September 11, 2001, which appeared on the cover of The Record newspaper and other newspapers on September 12, is at the heart of a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in New York. The Complaint, filed by the owner of the copyright in the photograph, claims copyright infringement and false designation of origin for the unauthorized reproduction of portions of the photograph on the website for Sarah Palin’s federally registered political action committee, www.sarahpac.com,  and on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/sarahpalin. Continue Reading Sarah Palin and North Jersey Media Group Battle Over “Fair Use” of Famous 9/11 Photo

Written by:      Joseph M. DiCioccio

There have been many attempts over the last few years to address online copyright infringement.  The most recent effort is the Copyright Alert System (“CAS”), which was rolled out in February 2013 as a system created to educate and alert the public about the dangers and harm caused by copyright infringement. The CAS is the first to outline pro-active, temperate measures to try to remedy one cause of the problem: the perceived anonymity of infringers operating through peer-to-peer websites.  The CAS gives infringers the opportunity to be notified of and to discontinue their wrongful actions before costly litigation ensues.

The CAS  is not a “law” but a voluntary effort by a private consortium (the Center for Copyright Information) comprised of a variety of large copyright owners (e.g., the Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA], the Recording Industry Association of America [RIAA] and Disney, among others) and internet service providers (e.g., cable companies such as Verizon, Cablevision, and Comcast or “ISPs”).  Under the CAS, when content owners discover infringing  content posted on websites alleged to knowing permit copyrighted content to be infringed (such as BitTorrent), they will send the suspected infringers a series of escalating “alerts” notifying them that they are accused of infringing copyright protected content.  The CAS does not involve litigation or demands for damages. The hope is that through this process, users will realize that infringement is not taking place anonymously on peer-to-peer file sharing websites, that content owners are aware of the infringement, and that there can be serious and expensive legal repercussions if the infringement does not cease.


Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

In our August 14th blog, we explained why just because you can copy something from the Internet, doesn’t mean you should copy from the Internet. A case on this very issue that has been around for several years involved the well-known “Hope” poster of President Obama’s face made during the 2008 campaign. The poster became one of the popular images of the Obama campaign and many copies were sold. The creator, Shepard Fairey, eventually fessed up that he did, in fact, create this image based upon a photograph that was taken by Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia.


Continue Reading Further to the “Copying from the Internet” Issue…..

Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

In a number of recent cases, individual photographers have successfully sued third parties for unauthorized reproduction and use of photographs, particularly those from stock photography sources. Courts have found third party liability for willful and innocent copyright infringement for the use of individual photographs and have awarded damages to copyright holders based on such conduct. Generally, professional photographers offer their photographs for use by third parties through professional stock photography agencies that negotiate licenses for use of the photos on behalf of the photographer. Continue Reading Just Because You Can Copy It Does Not Mean That You May Copy It

National Public Radio had a story yesterday on politicians’ use (or misuse) of music at campaign events.  It sets forth three seemingly simple rules for politicians to follow in order to avoid copyright and/or trademark based claims arising from such use:  (1) know your venue; (2) know when to ask for permission; and (3) “know when to fold’em.”   The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has prepared a helpful Q&A on the topic.  The alleged misuse of music at campaign events is an issue that has plagued politicians, including most recently Newt Gingrich.  Given that we have 11 more months of political campaigning to look forward to before the presidential election, something tells me that we’ll be talking about these three simple rules again (and again).

This Republican primary season has provided lots of fodder for political blogs, but it has also provided a few gems relating to — what else — trademark issues.    Now, U.S. copyright law is in the spotlight of the Republican primary campaign.  First, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is considering whether to pull a television ad that is comprised wholly of a 30 second clip from a January 21, 1997 episode of NBC’s “Nightly News” program hosted by Tom Brokaw.  The Romney ad is entitled “History Lesson” and can be viewed here.  In the ad,  Brokaw announces the House Ethics Committee’s decision to penalize then-Speaker Newt Gingrich.  The ad contains no other voiceover or images.  It ends simply with a Romney disclaimer (“Paid For By ….) and the statement that Romney approves the ad.  NBC has sent the Romney campaign a cease and desist letter, alleging that the ad constitutes copyright infringement.  Tom Brokaw has expressed that he is “extremely uncomfortable” with the use of his personal image.   Romney’s campaign asserts that its use of the news clip  “falls within fair use” and, therefore, does not violate copyright laws.

Second, Romney’s primary opponent in the race for the Republican nomination, Newt Gingrich, has copyright troubles of his own.  On Monday, Gingrich was sued in Illinois by a former member of the band Survivor (under the name “Rude Music”) for his use of the song “Eye of the Tiger” at campaign events.  The complaint asserts that Gingrich is “sophisticated and knowledgeable” of federal copyright law, citing Gingrich’s tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives during which the Copyright Act underwent several revisions.  As evidence of Gingrich’s further familiarity with copyright laws, Rude Music cites Gingrich’s recent criticism of the Stop Online Piracy Act at the Republican primary debate in South Carolina.  During that debate, Gingrich is quoted in the complaint as saying: “We have a patent office, we have copyright law. If a company finds that it has genuinely been infringed upon, it has the right to sue.”  In the complaint, Rude Music seeks an injunction and unspecified monetary damages based on Gingrich’s unauthorized public performances of the song.  Continue Reading Copyright Lessons from the Campaign Trail: Romney, Gingrich and Fair Use