#OscarsSoLitigious: Academy Sues Over Decadent $200k “Oscars” Swag Bags

Looks like the 88th Academy Awards couldn’t stay out of the spotlight if it wanted to, first dealing with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and now starting a lawsuit over the swag bags being given out at the awards. Forbes values this year’s swag bag at $232,000 and it includes such classics as: a $250 marijuana vaporizer; $1,900 “vampire breast lift” skin treatments; $250 vibrator; $275 Swiss-made toilet paper; and a 10-day first class trip to Israel, just to name a few. The company providing the gift bags is Distinctive Assets (DA), which specializes in “offering celebrity placement, product introduction and branding opportunities within the entertainment industry.”

You already know what it looks like anyway

NOT PICTURED: $250 Vibrator

Last year DA allegedly promised the Academy that it would change its ways and stop marketing its goodie bags in a manner that implies the Academy endorses DA or its products – so you can kind of see why the Academy would put its foot down when DA used slogans like “Everyone Wins At The Oscars®! Nominee Gift Bags,” and “Everyone Wins Nominee Gift Bags in Honor of the Oscars®,” this year. Continue reading


Sexy People Doing Sexy Things Isn’t Enough: YA Novelist Cassandra Clare Accused of Plagiarism Again

Sexy supernatural men falling in love with and protecting attractive young heroines, and the world, collide as NYT romance bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon has sued YA bestseller Cassandra Clare for allegedly plagiarizing her hit Dark-Hunter series. Kenyon started writing the Dark-Hunter books in 1998, and has been releasing bestselling novels within that universe consistently ever since. Clare’s first Shadowhunters book, City of Bones, came out in 2007. Both series focus on “elite” warriors that protect the “human world” from an unseen paranormal threat, stopping the enslavement of humanity. Both introduce this concept through a heroine who does not know she is one of these warriors until saved by a handsome, gothic, tattooed, blond man who is a powerful warrior. However; where Kenyon’s books are decidedly adult, featuring some … steamy scenes, Clare’s YA (young adult) novels have reached a much broader audience. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was made into a movie in 2013, and although it was panned by critics and flopped at the box office, a TV show, “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments,” premiered on ABC Family in January of 2016. Apparently this was the last straw, and on February 5, 2016, Kenyon sued Clare for trademark and copyright infringement based on the similarities between the Dark-Hunter and Shadowhunters names and stories.


Shadowhunters TV Show – Says it all, really

A juicy tidbit in this story is that this is not the first time Clare has been accused of plagiarism. Continue reading

Wozniak Goats Gruff: Apple Gobbled Up by Patent Troll to the Tune of $625M

Apple is no stranger to patent law or lawsuits; however, it can usually give as good as it gets. Not so for Apple’s latest foray into the courts. On February 3, 2015, a jury from the notorious Eastern District of Texas gave a whopping $625.6 million verdict, concluding that Apple had infringed upon four patents when making its iMessage and FaceTime products.

This is the second win for VirnetX against Apple, in 2012 VirnetX won a $368 million verdict claiming that Apple infringed VirnetX’s patents in its FaceTime service and in its VPN service. Although Apple tweaked these products, VirnetX claimed it was not enough this time around – and the jury agreed. VirnetX has a history of suing tech companies for patent infringement, for example, in 2014 VirnetX settled a dispute with Microsoft over its Skype program for $200 million, after successfully suing Microsoft in 2007. Continue reading

Graffiti Counts 2: Why Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Save Katy Perry’s MET Gala Dress

Back in August, we covered the outrage surrounding Katy Perry’s attire to the Annual Met Gala. The scandal was twofold, first, Perry’s gown featured an avant-garde graffiti design when the Gala theme was clearly “Chinese exhibition,” and secondly, the graffiti design was taken and used without the artist’s permission, constituting copyright infringement. Ergo; our last post focused on the legality of graffiti, as a clearly copyrightable work, framed in terms of the public sphere versus the public domain, and moral rights. Rime, who created the stolen work, sued Italian luxury fashion house Moschino, and now Moschino has formally responded.


Katy Perry in the gown at the 2015 Met Gala with the Moschino Creative Director

What did the Five Fingers Say to the Face? SLAPP!

On December 7, 2015, Moschino filed a motion to strike the entire complaint pursuant to California’s Anti-SLAPP statute. SLAPP stands for Continue reading

Claiming Problems, Not Solutions: Why Mark Cuban has a Point about Software Patents, and Why the Constitution Impliedly Mandates the Supreme Court Decisions in Bilski and Alice.

Guest Post by Charles A. Lutzow, III

‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

For years, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ignored patent law, either because they felt patent law was in a good place, they trusted the Federal Circuit (which has exclusive jurisdiction over patent appeals), they forgot about it because there were no circuit splits, or because of a general desire to stay out of the much more technical patent field. In any case, starting with KSR v. Telefax Co. in 2007, SCOTUS has taken a much greater interest in patent law, much to the dismay of a significant portion of the patent bar.

Mark Cuban: Anti-Patent Crusader

On November 10, 2015, Dallas Mavericks owner, Shark Tank TV star, and billionaire Mark Cuban gave an interview with IP Watchdog regarding his ideas on the current state of patent law, software patents, patent trolls, and patent reform. The interview was conducted by Gene Quinn, founder of IP Watchdog, a prominent patent attorney, and a known critic of SCOTUS’s recent §101 precedents. The interview contains an illuminating exchange on Cuban’s thoughts on patent law, but possibly none more than this: Continue reading