Happy 50th, Super Bowl!

Many of us watched the historic 50th anniversary Super BowlTM game Sunday evening, playing in San Francisco, and broadcast globally. You may have had a favorite team (Broncos or Panthers), coach, quarterback, or simply enjoyed the commercials and good times with friends. Now that the 39 year old quarterback Peyton Manning has won his 2nd Super BowlTM ring, everyone’s wondering if he will retire in a blaze of glory or come back for another season.

As you enjoy clips of your favorite commercials, here’s some football law for your inner armchair quarterback. The game has a famous trademark angle – the NFL has trademarked the phrase “Super Bowl” used in connection with the game, so others have to say “the Big Game” or “Souper Bowl,” or other code words to avoid getting sued.

Speaking of football lawsuits, here’s the fascinating story from the NYT of the only known surviving tapes of the first Super BowlTM, between the Green Bay Packers and (my hometown favorite) the Kansas City Chiefs. And here’s some more food for thought: a copyright lawyer’s dissection of the NFL’s copyright claims.

(c) 2016, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, is experienced counseling individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients on entertainment law, copyright, trademark, and IP litigation issues. We work with authors, musicians, artists, photographers, bloggers, songwriters, filmmakers, and others to provide cutting edge, reliable expertise on IP. We can help you answer these questions with confidence and friendly expertise. If we can serve you with your entertainment law, copyright, or IP questions, please call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

A Toast to Champagne™

Happy New Year! As we say so long to 2015 and hello to 2016, many will be toasting with champagne. To celebrate the festivities, we have some wine trivia for your New Year’s Eve party. Champagne has a rich history that’s bubbled up in intellectual property law, and been decanted into a trademark. Champagne is a geographical trademark of the Champagne region of France, so for a wine to be a “champagne,” its grapes must be grown in the Champagne area of France. Trademarks guarantee consumers they are getting a genuine product or service – your favorite brands are likely trademarked. The French call sparkling wines from other regions of France Mousseux or Crémant. Among many other virtues, the French have long been excellent vintners. Many New Year’s Eve revelers enjoy sparkling wines from other countries or from America (especially California). Many sparkling wines are labeled Méthode Champenoise, French for champagne method. Hearkening back to geometry class, just as every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square, so every bottle of champagne is made in the Method Champenoise, but only bottles from Champagne, France are truly champagne. (Think of Kansas City BBQ vis-a-vis BBQ in the Kansas City style.) What’s your favorite champagne or sparkling wine to celebrate with? Cheers to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2016! Salut, mon amis!

(c) 2015, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, is experienced counseling individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients on copyright, entertainment law, and IP issues. We work with authors, musicians, artists, photographers, bloggers, songwriters, filmmakers, and others to provide cutting edge, reliable expertise on IP. We can help you answer these questions with confidence and friendly expertise. If we can serve you, your business, or nonprofit organization with your copyright and IP questions, please call (913-707-9220) or email us (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

Art and War

The NYT and Daily Mail have this fascinating story about a family’s attempts to reclaim a Pissarro masterpiece looted by the Nazis during World War II. Like another family whose story is told in Woman in Gold, these cases hinge on a contract law claim. Here Claude Cassirer’s family accepted $13,000 in restitution for the painting after World War II. But it turns out the painting surfaced in 1951 in America and was circulated among private collectors. In 1993, the painting was one of many in a collection that a Spanish museum in Madrid bought from a prolific private collector for some $338 million. (It also raises the question of determining art’s ownership history – should a collector or museum have been suspicious if they saw “Berlin” stamped on a storage crate after the fall of the Third Reich?) So the Cassirer family sued the Spanish museum claiming the family actually owns the painting (the $13,000 being an admittedly paltry sum for an original Pissarro*). A California Court has ruled against the family, accepting the Spanish museum’s contract law claim, but importantly from a justice and equity perspective, urging the parties to “pause, reflect” and “work towards a mutually agreeable resolution” in light of Spain’s “commitment to achieve ‘fair and just solutions’ for victims of Nazi persecution” (Slip. Op. at 20).

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, is experienced counseling individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients on copyright, entertainment law, and IP issues. My law firm will be traveling to the 2015 GMA Immerse music conference in Nashville, TN with a client and hope to see you there. @GMAimmerse We work with authors, musicians, artists, photographers, bloggers, songwriters, and others to provide cutting edge, reliable expertise on IP. We can help you answer these questions with confidence and friendly expertise. If we can serve you, your business, or nonprofit organization with your copyright and IP questions, please call (913-707-9220) or email us (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2015, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

*In a less emotionally charged context, IP licensing or royalty fees often miss the mark. The Tolkien Estate (heir to the literary rights to The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, the Simarillion, and other works by the late great J.R.R. Tolkien) has long been locked in a legal battle over royalties with the studio who made the movies. Tolkien himself self the film rights in 1969, before the filmmaking technology existed to make the Academy Award winning Lord of the Rings trilogy or the epic Hobbit trilogy, which grossed billions at the box office. As a result, the Tolkien family has seen little, if any, royalties from the movies.

Copyright & Trademark Defense

We’re suing! See you in court! If you’re being sued over a copyrighttrademark, or other IP, you need a lawyer who knows IP law well, and who understands how to protect and defend your rights in federal and state courts.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, is experienced counseling individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients on entertainment law, copyright, trademark, and IP litigation issues. We work with authors, musicians, artists, photographers, bloggers, songwriters, filmmakers, and others to provide cutting edge, reliable expertise on IP. We can help you answer these questions with confidence and friendly expertise. If we can serve you with your entertainment law, copyright, or IP questions, please call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2016, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

IP Litigation 101

We’re suing you! See you in court! For many artists and IP owners or creators, those words strike chords of fear and stoke feelings of dread. If you’re being sued over a copyright, trademark, or other IP, or need to sue someone else over a copyright, trademark, or other IP, you need a lawyer who knows IP law well, and who understands how to protect and defend your rights in federal and state courts.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, is experienced counseling individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients on entertainment law, copyright, trademark, and IP litigation issues. We work with authors, musicians, artists, photographers, bloggers, songwriters, filmmakers, and others to provide cutting edge, reliable expertise on IP. We can help you answer these questions with confidence and friendly expertise. If we can serve you with your entertainment law, copyright, or IP questions, please call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2016, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Digital Content 101

Do you create or manage digital content? Are you a blogger, website owner, photographer, movie maker, writer, author, or frequent social media user or contributor? If so, you need to think about protecting your digital content rights via copyrights, trademarks, or other IP tools. My law firm understands and is experienced with various digital content platforms and social media outlets. We work with various clients to help protect digital content and social media contributions. We can also help clients with their digital estate planning needs – being sure your colleagues or family have access to your computer, phone, email, social media accounts, and other online portals if you become incapacitated or pass away.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, is experienced counseling individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients on entertainment law, copyright, trademark, and IP litigation issues. We work with authors, musicians, artists, photographers, bloggers, songwriters, filmmakers, and others to provide cutting edge, reliable expertise on IP. We can help you answer these questions with confidence and friendly expertise. If we can serve you with your entertainment law, copyright, or IP questions, please call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2016, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Trademarks 101

Trademarks come in three flavors: state, federal, and international. A trademark is legal protection for the continuous use of a mark (slogan, logo, etc) in commerce within a particular industry or business. The most common trademarks (which also have the best protection) are federal trademarks, granted upon application and negotiation with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. An often overlooked trademark (which is less expensive and provides more local protection) is a state trademark – granted in both Kansas and Missouri. And treaties and other legal systems protect trademark rights internationally too. When your business or nonprofit’s distinctiveness and reputation depends on using a mark, slogan, logo, or other insignia, you need a trademark. And you need an experienced trademark attorney who understands the application and negotiation process and has a proven track record of helping clients get trademark protection.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, is experienced counseling individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients on entertainment law, copyright, trademark, and IP litigation issues. We work with authors, musicians, artists, photographers, bloggers, songwriters, filmmakers, and others to provide cutting edge, reliable expertise on IP. We can help you answer these questions with confidence and friendly expertise. If we can serve you with your entertainment law, copyright, or IP questions, please call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2016, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.