The Oscar for best copyright story goes to…
selfie that broke the record for most ever retweeted
photo on Twitter during the Oscars this week has also sparked a
debate about who owns copyright on the image.
The Associated Press asked
permission to reproduce the photo from Oscars host Ellen
DeGeneres, who instigated the celebrity-filled photo and
provided the phone from which it was taken. However, some point
out that DeGeneres may not own the copyright on the image,
arguing instead that it belongs to
actor Bradley Cooper because he pressed the button
on the phone to take it.
Others believe DeGeneres owns
copyright because she thought of the idea for the photo and
executed it. They said Cooper could be argued as part of a
"work made for hire" because it became apparent that his
services were needed but there was not sufficient time to draw
up an agreement. Another theory is that Oscars sponsor Samsung
could claim co-owner status if it had asked DeGeneres to go
into the audience and take the picture.
lawyers have poured scorn on some of these theories, especially
the idea of Cooper being a "work for hire" because Cooper is
not an employee of DeGeneres. One response was titled "Why Copyright Analysis Should Be Left
To Copyright Lawyers".In it, Arent
Fox partner Paul Fakler, said: "It is quite possible
that nobody owns a copyright in this photo because nobody
contributed sufficient original
Judging by the number of
comments the issue is receiving on a
post on Managing
IP’s LinkedIn group (if you are not
already a member, join our group to enter the debate) it is clear
that the selfie throws up some interesting questions. However,
while it would be entertaining to see Cooper, DeGeneres and
anyone else claiming copyright on the photo duke it out in
court, these questions are likely to remain theoretical.
Another IP-related camera phone
photo story emerged this week also when it emerged French chefs
were unhappy at people snapping pictures of their
creations in restaurants. Some have banned photos from being
taken in their establishments, arguing that the publishing
photos of their food – referred to in some circles as
"food porn" – takes intellectual property away from
the restaurant. Other chefs argue their French counterparts
should loosen up, pointing out social networks are the new word
of mouth and are good for business.
India cranks up patent filing fees
The Government of India has published new patent
amendment rules that increase the official fee for
filing for patents by 60% for individuals and 100% for many
According to reports, individuals have
a 60% hike in filing fees, rising to 1,600 ($16.35) rupees from
1,000 previously. The fee will stay at 4,000 for those defined
under a new category of "small entities". The fee for entities
other than these has increased increase to 8,000 rupees from
4,000 rupees. To qualify as a small entity, investment in
plants and machinery should be below about $1.6 million.
POW! Copyright fight over Batmobile
The 9th circuit is to
consider whether the Batmobile – the car Batman used
to help clean up Gotham City in comics, a television show and
films – is protectable under copyright law. Warner
Bros is bringing James Bond, Freddy Krueger and Godzilla into
the fight to back it up.
Warner Bros was unhappy with
Californian mechanic Mark Towle for selling replicas of the car
and sued him for
infringement in 2011. Towle, who sold a few replicas
at $90,000 each, argues that the
Batmobile is merely functional and he had not
intended to mislead buyers into thinking the cars were
associated with DC Comics, owned by Warner Bros.
points to previous rulings on a car in the original
Gone in 60 Seconds film and Freddy Krueger’s glove
in Nightmare on Elm Street as examples where something closely
associated with a well-known character was protected by a
court. In response to Towle’s argument that the
Batmobile has changed over the years and therefore is not
"sufficiently delineated", DC says James Bond is protected as a
character despite being depicted by four actors over 16 films
and Godzilla was protected despite having inconsistently
"shifted from evil to good".
MOU from Russia with love
Russia has not been getting much love from other countries
recently, given its position in the unstable crisis in Ukraine.
But its intellectual property office has.
The Korean Intellectual Property
Office has signed a memorandum
of understanding on comprehensive cooperation in
intellectual property rights with the Federal Service for
Intellectual Property of Russia.
The MOU is
aimed at the advancement and development of new cooperation in
intellectual property rights between the two countries, which
in recent years has seen little
"This is highly meaningful in that it
will prepare the foundations to support bilateral cooperation
in cutting-edge technologies, which was discussed at a summit
meeting held between the Korean and Russian presidents in
November last year," said the Korean Intellectual Property
develops upon existing cooperation in common prior art
searches, and also enhances cooperation through the Patent
Prosecution Highway, patent information exchanges, the
provision of traditional knowledge database, and training on
Top patent troll targets revealed
An insight into how busy trolls are keeping the IP counsel of
some firms has been revealed. Fortune has
announced the 10 biggest patent troll targets, with
AT&T being sued the most in 2013.
The wireless carrier was sued 54
times by patent trolls last year, followed by Google with 43,
Verizon with 42, Apple with 41, Samsung and Amazon with 39,
Dell and Sony with 44, Huawei with 32, and Blackberry with 31.
This meant all of the top 10 targets were sued by a patent
troll at least once every 12 days.
These statistics were compiled
by RPX, a defensive patent aggregator that aims to buy up
potentially problematic patents on the open market before
trolls can. It does this in exchange for a subscription fee,
which 168 companies pay.
RPX said non-practicing entities
filed 3,608 new suits in 2013, up 19% on the 3,042 in 2012. NPE
suits made up 67% of all new patent cases filed last year.
Google is the top troll target
when all NPE cases filed and still unresolved as of December
2013 are taken into account. It was fighting 72 active cases at
the end of last year, followed by AT&T with 70, Apple with
68, Samsung with 63, Sony with 58, Amazon with 54, Verizon with
46, HTC with 42, LG Electronics with 42 and Dell with 41.