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Houston Intellectual Property Law Blog

Pizza place files trademark infringement for similar name

Texas fans of actress Julia Roberts may remember that she starred in a movie called, "Mystic Pizza" back in 1988. The movie took its name from a real pizza shop on the East Coast. Recently, that establishment filed a trademark infringement claim against another pizzeria whose company and website names are suspiciously similar.

This is not as uncommon as people might think. When choosing a name for a business, companies are supposed to make sure that the chosen name is not too close to that of another one. Like most businesses here in Texas, many only look within their state, but that could end up causing problems since many establishments are now online and can reach audiences across the country and the world.

What outcomes are possible in copyright litigation?

Protecting intellectual property is paramount for individuals and businesses here in Texas and elsewhere. When it becomes clear that someone is using protected material without permission, the owner of that property needs to take swift action, which could include simply asking the other party to stop using the material. When amicable efforts to resolve the situation fail, copyright litigation may ensue.

One question probably on the minds of everyone involved is what kind of damages a court could award if it rules in favor of the plaintiff. After determining whether the material has copyright protection, whether the other party infringed on that protection and what harm it caused or may continue to cause the material's owner, the court can make several rulings. What choices the court makes could have a significant impact on both parties.

Musicians pursue class action against large recording companies

The entertainment industry can be a tough one to navigate as many aspiring entertainers here in Texas can attest. For instance, musicians often end up signing contracts with record producers that may prevent them from going elsewhere in order to get their big breaks. They may even sign over their copyright protections as part of the deal. This could prove problematic if the artist wants his or her works back.

Back in the 1970s, recording artists and songwriters were willing to give the rights to their works to recording companies in order to get their starts or otherwise further their careers. After the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976, many of them provided termination notices to the companies they worked with in accordance with section 203 of the law. This section provides that after 35 years from the notice, the artists could receive the chance to reclaim their works.

Spotify seeks better definition in copyright infringement case

One of the results of many appeals court rulings, whether here in Texas or elsewhere, is better definitions for words and terms that arise during or contribute to litigation. For instance, in copyright infringement, one of the questions Spotify wants to ask an appeals court is what "exclusive rights" means? The company wants an answer since at least one lawsuit the company faces involves what it considers a questionable standing to sue.

In that lawsuit, a company that purports to have exclusive rights to certain music is suing Spotify for copyright infringement. Apparently, the company, Bluewater Music Services, was given exclusive rights, but must still seek permission in order to make deals regarding mechanical licenses of songs if the royalty payment will not be the full statutory amount. In other words, if the company wants to enter into an agreement for use of a song on a streaming service such as Spotify for less than the statutory minimum, it needs permission from (at least) the songwriter first.

Eight out of 10 companies experience trademark infringement

In the competitive global market of today, protecting intellectual property is crucial for every company, large and small. Intellectual property constantly faces the risk of infringement. This is especially true of trademarks. Even with legal protection, trademark infringement remains a major problem for many individuals and businesses. In fact, in 2018, eight in 10 companies suffered trademark infringement--and this statistic shows no sign of decreasing.

Trademark infringement is increasing

Entertainment lawyers offer more than securing copyrights

If you are one of the Texas residents who works in the entertainment industry, you may already diligently protect your creative works. By securing copyrights, you retain control over their use, receive royalties when you allow someone else to use them and go to court when necessary to protect them. You may use an entertainment lawyer to assist you in these tasks, but did you know that much more is covered by this area of law other than protecting your work through copyrights?

Anytime you deal with licensing issues for music, personalities, performances or more, you probably enter into an agreement with the other party or parties. If you wish to publish or record your work, you negotiate a contract with the producer or publisher. You work out a royalty agreement to ensure that you receive your fair share of the money made from doing so when you allow others to use your copyrighted material,.

Texas entrepreneurs beware of trademark scams

Many Texas entrepreneurs understand the importance of protecting their intellectual property. In an age where social media feeds, smart televisions and the like seem to know what you have been looking for when it comes to advertisements, it may not surprise them when they receive an unsolicited notice regarding registering a trademark or renewing one. The problem is that some rely on this trusting nature and attempt to defraud unsuspecting individuals and businesses.

Some companies offer legitimate services regarding the registration of trademarks, but some are less than honest. Even if you know your trademark requires renewal at a certain point, which is accurately listed in a notice, that does not mean it should be trusted. This information is usually readily available on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website.

Additional evidence for trademark registration may be required

Protecting intellectual property is a vital part of the success of any business. Making a company stand out among other businesses here in Texas often requires a trademark. Protecting it requires trademark registration, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may require additional evidence before granting a company's request.

In some cases, providing all relevant materials and documents could include a "specimen of use" from an applicant. This could be a product sample bearing the trademark if it pertains to goods. If it pertains to services, it could be a pamphlet, flyer or some other documentation bearing it. These real world examples provide an example of how a business intends to use it and could be a variety of objects or document.

Securing copyrights is big business in the entertainment industry

If you work in the entertainment industry, then you already know that it could quickly turn hostile. It does not matter whether you live here in Texas or somewhere else in the country. With so many people clamoring for attention from movie, television and music studios, some people's scruples take a holiday when it comes to stealing material from a fellow writer. For this reason, securing copyrights in this industry is crucial.

You have the right to control how your work is used and who uses it according to Texas and federal laws. Without the protection of artistic expression, the public would miss out on some amazing works. It does not matter if you are just starting out, you may want to take steps to protect your work, especially now when it could be at its most vulnerable.

Keep your business identifiable with trademark protection

How long do you think it will take you to get your business off the ground? More than likely, you will spend a significant amount of time getting your name out to your customer base. Once people know who you are, you will need some trademark protection in order to remain identifiable to those you provide goods or services to, whether just here in the Houston area or elsewhere.

If someone uses a brand substantially similar to yours, it could confuse consumers. You could end up losing customers, which could jeopardize the success of your business. On the other hand, another company may accuse yours of infringing on its trademark. In either of these circumstances, you will need to show that you have the right to the trademark and not the other party.


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