Entertainment and Media

By Edwin Komen

On Friday afternoon, June 15, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Allen Feess, Central District of California in Los Angeles, denied CBS Broadcasting’s application for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented ABC from airing the premier broadcast of its new reality series “Glass House”. CBS complained that “Glass House” infringed the copyright in its long-running “Big Brother” series. Both featured contestants isolated in a confined space competing for prizes, building alliances and fighting with each other while they are systematically voted out of the competition. Judge Feess described these elements as “commonplace”. In doing so, Judge Feess dealt another blow to the admittedly fragile protection for one of television’s most valued commodities…a popular, highly marketable format capable of being translated and locally re-formatted for domestic consumption in local television markets around the world. The frustration of format owners may have well been summarized by Judge Feess, who observed, “When I first heard of Big Brother, I thought it sounded like Survivor in a house.”[1]
Continue Reading Are Formats The Floor Mats Of Copyright?

By Ryan Lindsey and Nick Setty

In Thorner v. Sony Computer Entertainment America, LLC (Case No. 2011-1114, Feb. 1, 2012) (Moore*, Rader & Aiken (D. Or. sitting by designation)), the Federal Circuit reiterated the prohibition against importing limitations from the specification and reversed a district court construction depending from consistent uses of the disputed phrase in the specification.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Narrows Claim Construction Options in Game Controller Suit

In Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel, Snow Crash, humans interact as avatars in the “Metaverse,” the collective product of online shared three-dimensional space.[1] As imagined by Stephenson, this “Metaverse” has been created by all virtual worlds[2] – it is an augmented and enhanced physical reality, a physically persistent virtual space.[3] The novel is set in Los Angeles during the early 21st Century. The federal government of the United States has relinquished its authority to private entrepreneurs and organizations. Franchising, individual sovereignty, and private automobiles reign supreme. Highway companies compete for traffic in the real world while the Metaverse is populated and travelled by user-controlled avatars and system daemons.Continue Reading Trademarks In The Veldt: Do Virtual Lawyers Dream Of Electric Trademarks?

The California Supreme Court heard oral argument on June 3 in an important “right of publicity” case, Christoff v. Nestle USA Inc. Issues included whether the single publication rule applicable to mass communication-based torts applies to right of publicity claims; whether use of another’s likeness on a product label is a “publication” for purposes of the rule; whether its continuing use on product labels and in various product advertisements constitutes a “republication” for each use giving rise to new causes of action; and whether the discovery rule applies to right of publicity claims.Continue Reading An Advertising Face-Off: Images and the Right of Publicity