All Posts by Amanda G. Ciccatelli

s a Freelance Journalist for IPWatchdog, where she covers intellectual property. She earned a B.A. in Communications and Journalism from Central Connecticut State University in 2010. Amanda is also currently Head of Content Marketing, Social Media & Digital Products at Informa, a leading global business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and events business. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.
Spotify Sued by Music Publishing Company for Unauthorized Use of Thousands of Songs

The world’s biggest music streaming service, Spotify, has recently been sued by Wixen Music Publishing for allegedly using thousands of songs without a license and compensation to the publisher. Filed in the United States Federal District Court for the Central District of California, this is a major lawsuit that is only the latest in a string of legal actions that Spotify has faced in the past year. Benjamin Semel, partner at Pryor Cashman LLP, sat down with IPWatchdog to discuss the lawsuit in detail. He told us that this lawsuit speaks to the risk for music services like Spotify of a strategy to seek forgiveness rather than permission. Currently, copyright law gives music services the ability to compel songwriters and publishers to license their songs, but a specific process must be followed.

How IP-Protected Innovation is Driving Economic Growth

IP-protected innovation is now the principal driver of corporate value and is driving economic growth nationally. Developing an IP portfolio is now a basic requirement even for tech startups that hope to raise early stage financing… A large portion of the market cap of Silicon Valley companies can be directly attributed to intangible – or in other words intellectual property – assets. IP law is the primary tool used to protect the value of that innovation, and as we see from countries without meaningful IP laws there is simply no way to protect innovation absent a strong intellectual property system.

The Value in AI will be in Solving Real World Business Problems

Technology industry leaders and consumers will find it valuable to integrate disparate AI technologies. As AI becomes less siloed, they will discover that when these different AI technologies are integrated they can deliver more than the sum of their parts… Traditional industries like professional services, including law firms, insurance firms, etc., who implement AI technologies will see a large increase in employee morale and retention. Instead of being bogged down with boring, routine tasks, employees will have the opportunity to focus on more engaging, fulfilling work. Wallqvist says that this will prompt more firms to adopt AI, in order to keep employees from leaving their firm for another that is utilizing AI to reduce the amount of low-value, tedious work done by their employees.

Photo Sharing on Social Media & Copyright Infringement: What You Need to Know

With new social media platforms and photo sharing apps becoming more and more popular, the risk of copyright infringement through the sharing of photos is more present now than ever before. Not to mention, many social media platforms give the ability to re-post, save or share other people’s content. When so many options are available, allowing you to share someone’s photo at the click of a button, it is easy to forget about the possible legal implications of what you do on social media.

Disney Slams Characters for Hire for Tarnishing the Disney Image

One of the interesting theories posed by the case is Character for Hire’s claimed right to use Disney characters, which derive from Norse mythology or centuries-old fairy tales. In its response to Disney’s motion for summary judgment, Characters for Hire argues that many of the Plaintiffs’ copyrights are based on prior works that have been in the public domain for hundreds of years such as Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Princess Aurora, Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, Thor and Loki. “It will be interesting to see how the Court delineates between established fairy tale characters and the original expression added to them by Disney,” Furey said.

Government and 3D Printing: A New Line of Innovation to Protect

For the last 20 years, manufacturers have used 3D printing to build prototypes, but it was only recently that this industrial technology entered the mainstream.  The 3D printing of products can enable faster time-to-market, save money, mitigate risk and allow manufacturers to customize a component to suit customer needs. 3D printing can produce individual, specifically tailored parts on demand. Boeing printed an entire plane cabin in 2013 and Ford can manufacture vehicle parts in four days that would have taken four months using traditional methods.

How IP Took a First-Time Inventor from Shark Tank to $30M in Sales

Sleep Styler creator Tara Brown, an ophthalmologist by trade, turned to Knobbe Martens for help securing IP protection as soon as she had her final prototype – a no-heat hair roller –  in hand. Attorneys helped her file for patent protection and obtain trademark registration. Brown then raised over $40,000 in an August 2016 Kickstarter campaign, and in March 2017, her Shark Tank episode aired, where she agreed to take $75,000 in funding in exchange for 25 percent equity.  The very next week, sales soared from $70,000 in revenue to $3 million, and within three months hit the $50 million mark.

Pablo Escobar’s Brother Wants $1 Billion for Trademark Dispute with Netflix

Narcos, the popular Netflix drama about one of the world’s most notorious drug lords Pablo Escobar, is currently at the center of a trademark dispute that has been brought back into headlines after almost a year. Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria, brother of legendary drug lord Pablo, has requested $1 billion from Netflix for what he believes are major IP violations. Escobar cites “mistakes, lies and inaccuracies from the real story” in the first season as the reason for his request in a letter obtained and published by TMZ.

How blockchain is critical to the securitization of IP

Liquidity in markets for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin is opening a new door for musicians and athletes to issue digital tokens in exchange for money. The tokens are validated by blockchain, a public ledger used for the authentication of digital currency transactions, and backed by copyright, trademark or other IP assets… According to Naraghi, blockchain specifically is critical to the securitization of IP because it guarantees the validity of a transaction by recording the transaction on a main centralized register as well as a connected publicly distributed system of registers. The fact that data is embedded within a public network and updated with each transaction promotes transparency and prevents modification or corruption.

Did The Walt Disney Company and Pixar Steal the Movie Inside Out?

Robins Kaplan LLP filed an Amended Complaint detailing allegations that The Walt Disney Company and Pixar misappropriated the central concept and characters behind the animated hit movie Inside Out from a nationally recognized child development expert, Denise Daniels, who had pitched her uniquely original material and characters from her show The Moodsters to top studio executives… Ronald Schutz, partner at Robins Kaplan and lead trial counsel for Daniels and The Moodsters Company, sat down with IPWatchdog to discuss the copyright infringement claims.

Trademark a Band Name: What’s in a Rock Band’s Name?

While it is possible to copyright the design of a band logo, the band name itself is not copyrightable (see here and here). Band names are protectable under trademark law, because like brand names they allow us to distinguish one band’s music and identity from another. They are what enable us to distinguish between a “Beatles” record on the one hand, and a “Chipmunks” record on the other… The more unique the name, the greater the degree of trademark protection, but also the more the name will stand out and set the band apart from others, which is generally the goal.

Making a Federal Case out of Trade Secrets

“The most important change was that DTSA allowed someone claiming their trade secret was being used improperly to go into a federal court,” explained Jacoby. “In most situations, the employer and the employee in a trade secret dispute are likely to be in the same state. Usually, two citizens of the same state can’t bring a lawsuit into a federal court unless an independent basis for federal jurisdiction over the case exists. So, if my client wants to sue the business next door to his yoga school for blasting out heavy metal during his meditation classes, I literally can’t make a federal case out of it.” However, DTSA changed that rule for trade secret protection — that claim now can be brought into a federal court even if the parties are both from the same state. Up until DTSA, that only happened if you had some other jurisdictional basis to be in federal court, such as the parties were from different states and met the jurisdictional amount for a diversity claim, or perhaps if you sued under another federal statute relating to IP.

Are Corporate Employees Protected by the First Amendment?

As it related to the Google incident, it was first reported that a memo authored by a Google employee, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”, was being circulated among Google employees. Later that day, the memo was obtained by the media and made public. The memo’s author was identified in the press as a senior employee named James Damore. In the memo, Damore criticized the efforts of tech companies, Google included, to employ programs and hiring practices concentrating on diversity. Specifically, Damore was critical of tech company initiatives which had the goal of recruiting and employing female engineers.

The Intersection of Fashion, Virtual Reality and the Law

Virtual reality and augmented reality are catching on, and the fashion industry has taken notice. Many of today’s fashion brands are seeing their work being used in this disruptive technology. But, this has caused trademark issues for both fashion companies that want to protect their brands and fashion technology companies that want to bring those brands into the virtual reality world. Moira Lion and Jeff Greene, with the Intellectual Property Group at Fenwick & West, recently sat down with IPWatchdog to discuss how to approach VR innovations as they develop brand protection.

Do You Know How to Protect What’s Yours?

In the wake of recent judicial and legislative developments, protecting “what’s yours” has become even more complex. Many businesses and intellectual property lawyers have appropriately favored a strategy focused on obtaining patents when available to protect intellectual assets. However, in recent years there have been unprecedented changes to the American patent system… Developments in patent law have caused owners of intellectual capital to evaluate all available means for its protection including considering when appropriate the protection of innovations as trade secrets.