Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trademark Infringement Damages under the Lanham Act for Infringement of Unregistered Trademark

In doing some research in a trademark infringement case, I am reminded (by Mr. McCarthy) that all of the Lanham Act Section 35 (15 U.S.C. §1117)  remedies for infringement of a registered mark are available under Section 43(a) (15 U.S.C. §1125(a))  for infringement of unregistered marks.  Keep that in mind when considering whether or not to bring a trademark infringement suit based on a common law trademark.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Be Careful Accusing Movie Studios of Infringing Your Copyrighted Story or Screenplay

I get contacted frequently by authors claiming that their story has been "stolen" and is now a successful movie or television show.  Most claim that they sent a script or story to the studio at some point in time, and now they've been ripped off.    They always want the attorney to go after the bad guys and collect money from them for the author, and, oh yea, get your attorney's fees from the bad guys.  These authors never have any money to pay the attorney.... I'm always sympathetic, but skeptical.  There aren't really any new ideas under the sun, just rehashed stories transposed or "transformed" in some way.  I have never taken one of these cases because I have never felt the author had a strong case.  In a recent case on point, the judge actually ordered the plaintiff to pay the attorney's fees of defendant 20th Century Fox.  Plaintiff claimed Fox ripped off his story to make the movie Aliens vs. Predators.  The judge saw it differently, finding that there was no similarity, in fact the stories were substantially different, and any points of similarity were due to stock themes.  Plaintiff was ordered to pay $40,000 of Fox's attorney's fees.  http://tiny.cc/sggmk

Moral:  Studio's are fighting hard against claims of copyright infringement, so be careful before bringing a claim against them.