A good idea is worth protecting, and sometimes that means going to court. Whether you’ve taken out a patent on an invention, have created and copyrighted a piece of art, or have proprietary processes whose secrecy assures your continued success, when somebody infringes on your intellectual property you have the right to take legal action.
If you’re wondering how intellectual property disputes get resolved, consider the examples below, which represent some of the most notable, most interesting intellectual property lawsuits in history.
- Can a Tattoo be Copyrighted? It turns out that it can, and when the copyright is violated it can create quite a legal stir. The tattoo in question is the tribal one that artist S. Victor Whitmill created and tattooed onto the face of boxer Mike Tyson. Though the artist obtained a copyright for the art, moviemakers from Warner Bros. Entertainment replicated it on the face of one of the actors appearing in the movie The Hangover Part II. Though the filmmakers defended themselves by describing its use as a parody falling under false use, a judge said that the claim was legitimate. The issue was resolved out of court.
- Stripes on Sneakers Represent Trademark Infringement. Just as Nike has its famous swoosh, Adidas has used a three-stripe mark on its sneakers for over fifty years, so when Payless Shoes began decorating their discounted sneakers with either two or four parallel stripes that were strikingly similar to those used by the athleticwear manufacturer, Adidas sued. The trial, which lasted seven years, saw the court reviewing almost 300 pairs of Payless shoes to assess whether buyers could mistake them for the more expensive brand. In the end, Adidas was awarded $305 million in damages.
- Cereal’s name is deemed beyond trademark. Shredded Wheat is a classic cereal when both words are capitalized, but it is also a descriptive term. The original pillow-shaped cereal called Shredded Whole Wheat was created in 1893, and despite loads of criticism, it became extremely popular. When the creator died and his patents on both the cereal shape and the equipment that made them expired, the Kellogg Company began creating their own version and was promptly sued for trademark violations and unfair competition. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the term “shredded wheat” could not be trademarked and that the cereal’s shape was functional, and therefore available for common use once the patent had expired.
If you have an idea, copyright, or a trademark that somebody else is using without permission, we can help you as you purse your intellectual property dispute. Contact us today to set up a time to discuss your situation.