Politicians and IP – Still Don’t Mix

Every election cycle some band gets mad that a politician with unwelcome views has used the band’s song during campaign events.  I even blogged about one such instance HERE.

Today’s story is even better.  The Republican Party of Florida (“RPOF”) apparently wanted a favorable front-page headline to promote Governor Scott.  RPOF either couldn’t find one or just thought making one up was easier:

The advertisement:

 

The problem is that, according to the Miami Herald, it never ran a “New Law Helps Put Floridians Back to Work” story.  In fact, RPOF’s ad agency replaced the true headline (“Murders highlight rise in crime in Guatemala”) and the lead photo from the March 5, 2007 edition of the newspaper.  While political speech is nothing less than sacred under the First Amendment, this is pure deception.

 

“Nanolaw” – a scary vision of the future

I’m breaking the “Florida” part of Florida IP Trends to post a link to this article.  Will the mass-Doe infringement suits be the genesis of this vision of society?

http://www.ftrain.com/nanolaw.html

A sample paragraph:

We had gone to a baseball game at the beginning of the season. They had played a song on the public address system, and she sang along without permission. They used to factor that into ticket price—they still do if you pay extra or have a season pass—but now other companies handled the followup. And here was the video from that day, one of many tens of thousands simultaneously recorded from gun scanners on the stadium roof. In the video my daughter wore a cap and a blue T-shirt. I sat beside her, my arm over her shoulder, grinning. Her voice was clear and high; the ambient roar of the audience beyond us filtered down to static.

Lawlessness Among the Outlaws

Many people think of Florida as a tropical paradise with palm trees, convertibles, and theme parks lining every street.  While that may be true for some parts, Florida also has a rich deep-fried-and-countrified history filled with the cliches most people associate with Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina.  (TruckNutz?  You can thank Florida.)

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and 38 Special?  Jacksonville, Florida.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers? Gainesville, Florida.  Outlaws?  Tampa, Florida.  (Source)  (It’s the last band, Outlaws, that brings us to the current lawsuit)

Band lawsuits are nothing new.  They are typically filled with allegations of broken contracts, trademark and copyright infringement, and perhaps most importantly, hurt feelings.  Band agreements are the prenup agreements for polygamous relationships that must survive the hardships of touring, recording, and basic human maturation and evolution.  No band is immune.  Some take it out on each other physically (hello, Gallagher Brothers), and some spend their hard-earned royalties to hire attorneys.  The Beach Boys, Violent FemmesDead Kennedys (I know, not very Dead Kennedy-y of them), Wilco – all have had some dispute over the band’s intellectual property.

Notwithstanding the obvious irony, the corporate machine behind the Outlaws is now seeking some legal intervention over disputes with former members.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, on January 6, 2010.

The first thing to note is that the complaint was signed and filed by an Illinois attorney who is apparently not admitted to the Florida Bar.  Also, there is no local counsel designated, so I would expect an application for a special appearance to be filed soon, or else the complaint might be kicked out.

Also, and this is even worse – if you’re a badass Southern Rock band, make sure your attorney spells “Lynyrd Skynyrd” correctly.  It’s spelled “Lynard Skynard” in the complaint, and that’s pretty much sacrilege around these parts.

Notwithstanding the Skynyrd faux pas, the complaint is a doozy.  It even has a table of contents.  There are many allegations (trademark infringement, conversion, cybersquatting, the works…), and the prayer for relief is especially brutal – calling for the destruction of CD’s.  I encourage you to read it yourself and observe a band’s internal self-destruction.

One thing to remember – no matter who the public thinks is the “soul” or “leader” of a band, it’s generally the paperwork that ultimately matters.   (See page 44.)

Complaint and Exhibits HERE.

Copyright Infringement – Step Right Up!

I see potential copyright and trade dress/design patent infringement all the time in Orlando.  There are numerous tents lining Semoran Blvd. and Colonial Drive with knockoff purses hanging from wooden dowels.  Chanel, Burberry, Coach – easy to spot, and no way that the real deal would be sold for pennies on the dollar.

A story in the local paper today shows that these mobile infringers aren’t limited to retail distribution.  According to police, Jairshino Savain had a mobile infringement factory.  He allegedly sold pirated movies out of the back of his van.  He actually made the copies on the spot using a laptop connected to the van’s battery.  And now he’s in jail.

Full story, HERE.