Gov. Chris Christie’s Four Liter Jersey Traffic Jam

Jimmy FallonIrresistable mash-up by “the Bosses” for the Gov, delighting both my ”Jersey Girl” and copyright lawyer personalities.

A new Picasso — and a hefty tax bill.

Jeffrey Gonano of Wexford in western Pennsylvania won the lottery for the 1914 Picasso painting L’Homme au Gibus (Man in the Opera Hat).  Mr. Gonano had purchased one of the 50,000 lottery tickets that had been sold for 100 euros (approximately $137) each.  The lottery was held to benefit two Arts and Cultural Projects in a UNESCO World Heritage city in Lebanon.

However, because the painting is valued at approximately $1 million, the win may come with a tax bill as large as $365,000.  And, unlike a lottery with a cash prize, Mr. Gonano cannot pay the taxes out of the proceeds, unless he decides to sell the painting.  Of course, Mr. Gonano can avoid the tax liability by donating the painting to a charity or museum.  Mr. Gonano is currently exploring his options.

http://www.goerie.com/article/20131223/NEWS06/312239957/Picasso-may-pose-$365000-tax-dilemma-for-raffle-winner

Pushing Patent Trolls Into the Light of Day: Congress Attacks the Practices of Non-Practicing Entities

HiResThe Innovation Act, H.R. 3309, was overwhelmingly passed by the House (325-91) last week.  The Senate version seems poised to pass soon, and the White House is reportedly also in favor.  The legislation was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to address the growing problem of non-practicing entities (NPEs), a.k.a “patent trolls.”

Patent trolls are so named for their practice of acquiring patents that they have no intention of bringing to the market.  Instead, trolls demand damages or licensing fees from unsuspecting businesses, sometimes including consumers, who use a device or method allegedly covered by the troll’s patents.  The Patent Examiner reports that Innovatio IP Ventures, which claims to have a portfolio of patents covering wifi technology, sues businesses such as Caribou Coffee and Panera Bread for providing wifi in their businesses. The trollish penchant for “shell” companies makes it nearly impossible to determine who owns the patents at issue. Read More »

US Supreme Court to take on the patentability of software. Can the decision reduce the incidence of troll attacks?

Mathmatical algorithms are unpatentable. Software is a collection of algorithms expressed in machine code. Under current law, only software that involves a specific machine or physical result. The U.S. Supreme Court accepted cert in a case,  Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International (docket 13-298), involving financial software to mitigate risk in settlement transactions. The trial court decided the software is unpatentable because it merely uses “the abstract idea of employing an intermediary to facilitate simultaneous exchange of obligations”. the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit split on the decision, teeing it up for the Supreme Court.

Timothy Lee of the Washington Post points out that if the Supreme Court broadly invalidates the software patents, it would allieviate the nuisance suits by ‘non-producing entities’ or ‘trolls’, since most involve software. Would it discourage Congress from its present mission to identify a legislative solution to the troll problem? Read More »

Win a Picasso and Own a Masterpiece! But Hurry!

UK2This is no joke (although it is extremely awesome!):  A drawing will be held on December 18, 2013 for a Picasso entitled  L’Homme au Gibus (Man in the Opera Hat), completed in 1914.  Here is a copy of the painting:

Tickets cost a mere 100 Euro (approximately $135).  Only 50,000 will be sold.  Proceeds will benefit two Arts and Cultural Projects in a UNESCO World Heritage city in Lebanon.  Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.1picasso100euros.com/?lang=en

Good luck!!

Fair use ruling for Richard Prince stands, Supreme Court declines to hear Patrick Cariou’s appeal

richard-prince-ile-de-france-canal-zoneThe US Supreme Court has declined to hear Patrick Cariou’s appeal requesting a rehearing of his case against Richard Prince. The decision came one week after district court Judge Deborah Batts* accepted amicus briefs from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Rauschenberg Foundation encouraging consideration of the opinions of art historians and the broader art community when deciding whether Prince’s “Canal Zone” series infringed on Cariou’s copyright.

It’s not over until it’s over. Read More »

Using the term Natural in food advertising? Products claiming to be ‘au natural’ may need to meet a higher standard

all natural badge“My food is more natural than your food” lawsuits have been bountiful in the last few years. Following this trend is a “food advertising modernization” bill, HR 3147, introduced by U.S. Representatives Pallone and DeLauro, that would require advertisers who claim their products are ‘All Natural’ to prove that the food does not contain synthesized artificial ingredients that mimic natural ingredients, unless such artificial ingredients result from traditional methods of processing food to make food food edible, to preserve food, or to make food safe for human consumption (such as smoking, roasting, freezing, drying and fermenting processes).

Presently,  ’natural’ can refer only to food products s that can show that no artifical ingredient was added to the product, including food coloring from any source.

While the FDA and Congress sort out the definitions, the Wall Street Journal reports that food advertisers are quietly dropping the ‘All Natural’ claim as ambiguous and prone to law suits.

 

Can Newsworthiness fade away? A tabloid figure of the 1970′s loses her fight for privacy.

Captor of the Manacled MormanJoyce McKinney allegedly kidnapped and raped a Morman missionary dubbed the Morman Sex Slave by the Daily Mirror. McKinney was the Diaper Wearing Astronaut of her time. Tabloid media’s entertainment value comes from invading the personal lives of notable and notorious people. Invasion of privacy laws protect people from injury from unwanted attention. Public figures like elected officials and celebrities who seek public attention seldom win lawsuits for invasion of privacy. The First Amendment protects newsworthy stories. Sensational stories may transform a private person into a limited public figure because she is related to a newsworthy event like the Manacled Morman story. When the story fades into history, does its newsworthy status evaporate?  Do limited public figures like Joyce McKinney have a right to keep their notorious acts in the past? Read More »

Dear Friends: Copy and paste Facebook Privacy Notices are SPAM. Kindly stop reposting!

Or perhaps the notices are a hoax virus– spread by friends bullying friends to spam others to show respect for the poster’s privacy and copyrights. Posting and re posting the Facebook Privacy Notice will not change Facebook’s policies.  If privacy is a concern, adjust privacy settings or avoid using Facebook for private communications. If controlling content is a concern, avoid posting images or register copyright in important materials before posting. To use Facebook, users give it a limited right to “share” their user content. This right does not place user content in the public domain. Read More »

Appropriation of famous logo is trademark infringement? You be the judge.

Banksy on branding. The elusive street artist is seemingly frustrated with his own commercial success. To him great street artists need to remain criminal to keep their art pure. Most appropriation art could violate commercial law but is not criminal, unless it involves a violation of Copyright law’s DMCA. The image above is not a copyright infringement, but is potentially trademark infringement and dilution of Coca Cola’s famous trademarks in the shape of the bottle and the coca-cola script.

If Banksy’s use of Coca Cola’s trademarks are a fair use there would not be an infringment. The test for trademark fair use is different from copyright fair use. In fact there are a few trademark fair use tests. Read More »