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is an Associate level Patent Attorney and Trademark practicing in the Twin Cities area. She is a registered member of the Minnesota State Bar and the United States Patent and Trademark Bar.
While registration is required in order to file a lawsuit for copyright in federal court, there is currently a circuit split with regard to what part of the process must be complete in order to meet the “registration” standard. According to 17 U.S.C. §411(b), “no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made.” The question that circuit courts seem to be divided on is whether “registration” is satisfied when a Copyright Registration is received, or when an application has been filed. On June 28, 2018, the Supreme Court agreed to weigh in. The case at issue is Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, which arises out of the Eleventh Circuit.
Innovators often face the question of how to best protect their new ideas. Patents immediately come to mind for new products and processes. However, copyright protection should also be considered. While patent protection is limited to the claims in a particular patent, copyright protection can be broader, particularly where 3D works of art are concerned. Additionally, copyright protection may provide some protection where a 3D rendering is made of a known 2D work.
As of 2012, one in five adults in the United States have at least one tattoo. While some designs are simple, many are incredibly complex, original works of art. However, since tattoos are designed to be permanent, and often placed to be seen, the question arises – who owns the copyright to that artwork? And how can, and can’t, the owner display it? Unfortunately, there are no cases to date that definitively answer the questions around copyright infringement and tattoos. With a new case filed by a tattoo artist in April 2018, concerning a tattoo he placed on WWE wrestler Randy Orton, which appeared in the WWE 2K16, 2K17 and 2K18 video games, it is important to determine what we do know about whether tattoos can be copyrighted, and who owns what rights with regard to their use and reproduction.
There’s a season every year where individuals dress-up in homemade costumes and gather for tricks, treats… and comic books? That’s right, it’s comic-con season! Many fans proudly wear costumes that they create themselves, dressing up as their favorite super hero, anime cartoon, or video game character. However, one thing they probably are not considering is whether those costumes could put them in jeopardy of a copyright infringement claim. But, since the costume industry as a whole is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States alone, it is a consideration that could have costly consequences.