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

This Just In: Against Progress: Intellectual Property and Fundamental Values in the Internet Age

When first written into the Constitution, intellectual property protections were intended to help foster the progress of science and the useful arts by granting rights to authors and inventors. In Against Progress: Intellectual Property and Fundamental Values in the Internet Age Jessica Silbey argues the constitutional mandate for intellectual property of progress and fundamental values, such as equality, privacy, and distributive justice, are increasingly challenged in today’s internet age.  Silbey examines the experiences of everyday creators and innovators navigating ownership, sharing, and sustainability within the internet ecosystem and current intellectual property laws via several intellectual property cases.

Jessica Silbey is a Professor of law at Boston University and has written numerous other books on intellectual property.

Likelihood of Confusion? Cleveland Baseball Team Sued for Use of Guardians Nickname

A complaint filed in the Northern District of Ohio challenges the former Cleveland Indians from using their new chosen name of Cleveland Guardians.

The Indians selected the name Guardians from over 1,000 options after receiving input from fans, front office members, community leaders, and others. The name was inspired by the stone sculptures “Guardians of Transportation” on the Hope Memorial Bridge right outside the baseball stadium.

However, the name Cleveland Guardians is already in use by a local roller derby team. According to an article on Justia, the roller derby team “alleges that the MLB team was aware of the conflict between team names before making the change. They also argue that the identical names already have caused confusion among members of the public. For example, the website of the roller derby team allegedly experienced a massive increase in traffic after the announcement of the name change, which caused it to crash and continues to affect its speed and responsiveness.” The roller derby team wants the court to grant an injunction against the team formerly known as the Indians to prevent their use of the name Guardians.

Dame de Havilland Sues FX

On 6/30/17, the day before she turned 101, Dame Olivia de Havilland filed a complaint against FX Networks LLC, et al., in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming unauthorized use of her name and likeness to endorse a product and “false light.”  [See Case # BC667011.] The complaint concerns the portrayal of de Havilland “as a vulgarity-using gossip” in the FX docudrama Feud: Bette and Joan, violating her reputation for “honesty, integrity and good manners.” Specifically, in a scene of an interview of de Havilland at the 1978 Oscars, FX meticulously copied the dress and jewelry she wore to the 1978 Oscars (ie, “right of publicity”) as well as depicted an interview that never happened (ie, “false light”). Dame de Havilland has stated that FX never contacted her for permission or to request her input, and that she believes “in the right to free speech, but it certainly must not be abused by using it to protect published falsehoods or to improperly benefit from the use of someone’s name and reputation without their consent. … If [FX] is allowed to do this without any consequences, then the use of lies about well-known public figures masquerading as the truth will become more and more common. This is not moral and it should not be permitted.” The defendants’ motion to strike, based on California’s anti-SLAPP statute (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation; see CA Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16 – 425.18), was denied 9/29/17, and they are appealing in the California Court of Appeal 2nd Appellate District. [See Case # B285629.] The Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has supported Dame de Havilland with an amicus curiae brief, and several organizations (Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.; Netflix Inc., etc.) have filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the defendants/appellants. Opening arguments will be heard 3/20/18. Dame de Havilland is no stranger to difficult law suits. In 1944, after she refused some parts and Warner Brothers tacked time onto her contract, de Havilland successfully sued to get out of the contract. Her suit inspired the De Havilland Law, prohibiting the enforcement of a personal services contract beyond seven years (CA Labor Code § 2855).

Cleveland Public Library Patent and Trademark Resource Center Open House

On Saturday, October 7 at 2pm, the downtown branch of Cleveland Public Library is hosting an open house for their Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC).  The event address is: Cleveland Public Library, Louis Stokes Wing, 2nd floor, 525 Superior Avenue Cleveland, OH 44114. Our friends at the Cleveland Public Library invite you to learn about the resources available for you as well as upcoming projects and programs. Take a tour of the Maker Space in TechCentral and check out the Patent and Trademark Resource Center. Light refreshments will be served.

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.