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


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 It has officially withdrawn its application and plans are under way to come up with a title for the new film that doesn’t include the name of the holiday.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.

Derby Girls: When Roller Derby and IP Collide

Roller derby is a predominantly female, all-American contact sport that combines fierceness and speed with elements of punk rock and camp.  In Talk Derby to Me: Intellectual Property Norms Governing Roller Derby Pseudonyms [90 Texas Law Review 1093 (April 2012)], author David Fagundes looks at the formal and informal mechanisms used to protect the skaters’ handles. Derby names or pseudonyms are creative and colorful nicknames competitors use in the sport. Fagundes provides some great examples  – Killo Kitty, Venus de Maul’r, Axles of Evil, Madame Ovary, Paris Troika, and Tae Kwon Ho are just a few. Derby names are regulated through informal registration systems and through formal trademark law.  The author applies the example of derby names to wider IP law and legal theory.

Northeast Ohio’s own all-female fast-track derby league is the Burning River Roller Girls, which consists of over 100 players organized into seven teams. Teams complete at Cleveland State University, in the Wolstein Center.  Local derby girls likewise sport rockin’ pseudonyms, like Dita Von Bitch, DomiKnitrix, Moltov Hot-Tail, and Morbid Cherub.

Image source: CoolCleveland.com

More 2012 Nutshells

Back in December, we previewed the 2012 nutshells that had already arrived in the library [2012 Nutshells Arrive]. Figured it was time to update our list of the most current nutshells:

Nutshells can be checked out from room AO66. Second copies are located in the reference stacks.

 

Patent Attorneys’ Work Increases Due to Changes in Law

A recent article in Crain’s Cleveland Business interviews some local patent attorneys whose business will be affected by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which was signed into law in September.  As mandated by the Act, in March 2013 there will be a switch from a first-to-invent system to a first-to-file system.  This makes the turn around time for completion of legal work more critical.  The Act makes other far-reaching changes including changes to what is required to obtain a patent.    Some local attorneys are adding associates to help.  You can read the article on Lexis: Michell Park, Patent Work Gears Up, Crain’s Cleveland Business 10/31/2011.

If you are interested in a career in patent law, check out the library’s Intellectual Property Career Research Guide and/or talk to the friendly and knowledgable folks at C|M|LAW’s Office of Career Planning.

(Picture is U.S. Patent No. 6,009,566 (Head and Neck Support for Racing))