News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball Still in Logo Dispute in Canada

A recent Law360 article gives an update on the Cleveland Indians logo dispute in Canada that flared up during the team’s playoff run last fall.  The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has refused to toss a Canadian human rights activist’s discrimination claims against Major League Baseball and the Cleveland Indians, finding that it has the authority to hear the dispute over the team’s controversial “Chief Wahoo” logo.  The baseball club also faced a trademark challenge in February 2016 by a group of Native Americans who say the team’s logo is offensive and violates the Lanham Act’s ban on “disparaging” trademarks. The trademark challenge against the Indians was suspended in May 2016 while a case raising similar questions, Lee v. Tam, plays out in the courts.  The US Supreme Court will be deciding the Lee v. Tam case shortly.

The above link to the article will require a Law360 login to access.

Faculty, student and staff of C|M|Law can get the article via their Lexis Advance accounts.  Once signed in, simply type “Law360 Legal News” in the big search box and select the resource. Next, type in “MLB, Cleveland Indians Can’t End Logo Dispute In Ontario” (the headline of the article)  in the Headline segment box.

Fair Use Copyright Decisions Index

Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante has announced the launch of the U.S. Copyright Office’s Fair Use Index, which is designed to provide the public with searchable summaries of major fair use decisions. The Index was undertaken in support of the 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement prepared by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator within the Executive Office of the President.

Although not a substitute for legal advice, the Index is searchable by court and subject matter and provides a helpful starting point for those wishing to better understand how the federal courts have applied the fair use doctrine to particular categories of works or types of use, for example, music, internet/digitization, or parody.

The link to the index is also listed in our catalog.

Free Patent and Trademark Seminar

A Free Public Seminar for Inventors, Entrepreneurs, Educators, Students and Legal Professionals. Tuesday, September 23, 2014 is being held at the Cleveland Public Library Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium 525 Superior Avenue Cleveland, Ohio from 10am-5pm.

Pre-registration is required. Register at or call (216) 623-2870.

Trademark Trouble: Disney-Pixar and Dia de los Muertos

diadelosmuertosDisney-Pixar recently attempted to trademark the phrase “Dia de los Muertos” for an upcoming film it is creating that centers on the Mexican holiday of the same name. For now, it seems that the corporation will not succeed in its efforts. It has officially withdrawn its application and plans are under way to come up with a title for the new film that doesn’t include the name of the holiday. Whether this decision came as a result of social media attacks or was independently determined to be the best plan of action is under dispute.

The one thing that is certain is that responses to the attempt to “trademark the holiday” were overwhelmingly negative. For example, a LA-based cartoonist named Lalo Alcaraz created an image of a skeletal Mickey Mouse attacking a city with the text “It’s coming to trademark your cultura.” In addition an article from FoxNews Latino includes quite a few memorable and damaging quotes. For instance, Andrea Quijada states that Disney “is a corporation that has consistently co-opted culture for profit….Just look at Pocahontas, Mulan, Jasmine.”

Despite the backlash of the filing, some do point out that trademarking “Dia de los Muertos” is not the same thing as owning the rights to the entire holiday.  An article in Time Entertainment by Lily Rothman notes that the trademark would only apply to products and services that relate exclusively to the Pixar film. Titles of books and movies in the United States are not subject to copyright, so trademarking a title is the only protection available to corporations like Disney-Pixar.

We will just have to wait and see what Disney-Pixar comes up with for its final title and hope that both the corporation and those who celebrate the holiday are happy with the result.

Photo by groovehouse

Copyright Protection for Illegally Created Graffiti Art?

In his recently published article, “Art Crimes? Theoretical Perspectives on Copyright Protection for Illegally-Created Graffiti Art” in the Maine Law Review, Jamison Davies explores the boundaries of intellectual property law as it applies to this form of urban public art. Courts have faced the issue of copyright protection for illegal graffiti head on only once, in Villa v. Pearson Education, Inc. 2003 WL 22922178 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 9, 2003). The Villa court decided against copyright protection for graffiti that was illegally created.  Despite this precedent, Davies examines several theories that might question this holding. He looks at economic theories that incentivize the production of art, personhood theories that promote the personal development of the artist, and theories of political dissent and democracy that view graffiti as a vehicle of self-expression for disadvantaged groups. You can access this article, 65 Maine L. Rev. 28, both electronically and in print in the library.