An artist’s illustration of two dolphins crossing underwater was an idea that was found first in nature and was not protectable under copyright law, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has held. The court affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of another artist who created a painting with a…

A jewelry designer’s “Buddha’s Kiss” earring was entitled only to “thin” copyright protection because there were a limited number of ways to design an earring containing the work’s single protectable idea—a teardrop-shaped earring incorporating the henna symbol for the word “kiss” and the shape of the Buddha—the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has…

Microsoft Corp. established, as a matter of law, that several California retailers infringed the software giant’s copyrights and trademarks by selling 60 units of software, each of which included a counterfeit copy of Microsoft Windows 7 or Microsoft Office 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has determined. A judgment against the retailers…

Designs for cheerleading uniforms owned by Varsity Brands, Inc., were copyrightable because the graphic elements of those designs were separable from the utilitarian function of a cheerleading uniform, the U.S. Supreme Court has held. In a split decision, the Court held that a feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for…

The California Supreme Court has been asked by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to provide guidance on the question of whether California statutory or common law grants owners of pre-1972 sound recordings an exclusive right of public performance. This guidance is key to a lawsuit brought by Flo & Eddie, Inc.—owner of…

Flo & Eddie, Inc.—owner of recordings by 1960s pop group The Turtles and created by former Turtles vocalists Mark “Flo” Volman and Howard “Eddie” Kaylan—has sustained a decisive blow in its attempt to recover damages from satellite and Internet broadcaster Sirius XM Radio for broadcasting and reproducing pre-1972 sound recordings without permission—at least with respect…

A seller of computer aided design (CAD) files used for steel detailing services could have infringed a software provider’s CAD program by downloading an unauthorized copy of the program, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has held. There was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the unauthorized download was more…

The proprietors of a muscle car restoration business, Dan and Gary Pronman, were liable for the attorney fees incurred by the operators of a complaint website in successfully defending against frivolous copyright infringement claims based on the website operators’ allegedly unlawful reproduction and publication of copyrighted photographs owned by the Pronmans, the U.S. Court of…

A seller of karaoke equipment whose insurance carrier paid over $1 million to music publishers to settle infringement claims over the alleged unlicensed distribution of song recordings, in exchange for dismissal of the claims with prejudice, was not the “prevailing party” for purposes of the Copyright Act’s fee-shifting provision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in…

Four children of the deceased gospel music composer and publisher Albert Brumley successfully terminated Brumley’s assignment of the copyright to the song “I’ll Fly Away” to their brother, Robert, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has held (Brumley v. Albert E. Brumley & Sons, Inc., May 16, 2016, Sutton, J.). The Copyright Act allowed…