Copyright Office Requiring New DMCA Agent Designation by Year’s End

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides limited immunity from copyright infringement claims to certain types of websites and other online service providers. To qualify for such safe-harbor immunity, such providers must designate an agent to receive requests to remove infringing materials.

As of December 1, 2016, the Copyright Offices now requires that such providers designate their DMCA agents electronically through an online portal at the Copyright Office. And as of December 31, 2017, any previously-filed designations will be rendered ineffective unless they have been updated through that portal.

For more information about registering (or re-registering) your designated DMCA agent, click here.

The Supremes Hear Oral Argument in Portland Band The Slants’ Trademark Case

On Wednesday, January 18, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Lee v. Tam, a case reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision in In re Tam holding that the disparagement provision in Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1052(a), was facially invalid under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The issue before the Supreme Court is whether the disparagement provision, which prohibits the government from registering trademarks that contain “matter which may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute” is facially invalid under the First Amendment.

In 2006, Simon Shiao Tam, an Asian-American, formed The Slants, an Asian-American dance-rock band. Mr. Tam named his band The Slants to “reclaim” and “take ownership” of Asian stereotypes. In 2011, Mr. Tam filed an application (App. No. 85/472,044) seeking to register the mark THE SLANTS. Relying on the disparagement provision, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) rejected Mr. Tam’s application on the grounds that the band’s name was disparaging to Asian-Americans. The PTO found that even though Mr. Tam may have chosen the mark to “reappropriate the disparaging term,” “a substantial composite of persons of Asian descent would find the term offensive.” Continue Reading

It’s Tax Fraud Season: Take Action Today to Avoid This Common Data Breach Scenario

Equifax_Data_BreachLast year, many businesses suffered data breaches during tax season when their employees divulged other employees’ W-2 information (including Social Security numbers) to criminals. Sadly, we are starting to receive reports that the criminals are back at it this year. Take action now to avoid being victimized and protect your employees’ data.   Continue Reading

The Supremes Unanimously Limit the Galactic Design-Patent-Infringement Damages Award in One of the Apple v. Samsung Design-Patent Wars

More than 120 years have passed since the United States Supreme Court last tackled the issue of damages in design-patent cases. This month, the Court put an end to that silence with its decision in Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., handing Samsung a huge victory in its patent war with Apple over the designs of smartphones. In a unanimous ruling, the court limited the damages available to Apple for Samsung’s infringement of Apple’s iPhone design. This case could have a ripple effect across the legal galaxy (well, at least as it relates to the technology industry).

Some history adds context to the significance of this decision. In the mid-1880s, the Court decided the Dobson cases (Dobson v. Hartford Carpet Co., 114 U.S. 439 (1885) and Dobson v. Dornan, 118 U.S. 10, 17 (1886)), two cases involving carpet designs in which the Court awarded only nominal damages for patent infringement. In response to the Dobson cases, Congress enacted a specific damages remedy that made the design-patent infringer “liable in the amount of” $250 or “the total profit made by [the infringer] from the manufacture or sale * * * of the article or articles to which the design, or colorable imitation thereof, has been applied.”  Continue Reading