Safe Harbor Protection – Website Liability

Safe Harbor

A “safe harbor” is defined as a harbor considered safe for a ship during a storm at sea, or any place or situation that offers refuge or protection. A safe harbor is also a provision of a statute or a regulation that specifies that certain conduct will be deemed not to violate a given rule. Websites that host content are always at risk of someone posting an image they don’t own, or music they haven’t licensed, or content they haven’t created. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) provides websites with protection from liability for material posted by their users. This protection is legally referred to as a safe harbor. Continue reading “Safe Harbor Protection – Website Liability”

Show Me Your T**s – The Nudity Rider

Nudity Rider

Sex sells. Always has and likely always will. Especially in film and television. But before a movie trailer is released, or a film opens in theaters, or even before the cameras roll on set, filmmakers and actors are required to enter into a separate contract if there is any nudity or sex acts in the film. That contract is commonly known as the Nudity Rider. Filmmakers and actors both need to know critical information about this Nudity Rider to ensure compliance with law and protect individual rights. Continue reading “Show Me Your T**s – The Nudity Rider”

Brand Name Weed – Cannabis Trademark

Cannabis Trademark

Now that California has legalized recreational cannabis, intellectual property attorneys are being flooded with client requests to file state cannabis trademark applications to protect their brand names. Actually, the law does not expressly permit sale of cannabis until January 1, 2018. Nevertheless, cannabis businesses are wise to move quickly to secure their cannabis trademark rights to protect their brand. Continue reading “Brand Name Weed – Cannabis Trademark”

Should You Trademark Your Business Name?

business name
Start-up business owners don’t always recognize the value of trademarking their business name or logo. A trademark is defined as “generally a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Trademarks are an important tool to prevent other businesses from using similar marks that are likely to confuse actual and potential customers. There are certain protections granted to a business simply by using the business name or logo in commerce. However, the real protection and remedies are only available to those businesses that have registered the business name and/or logo with the USPTO.

Music Sampling – How Much of a Song Can I Use?

music sampling

I am frequently asked the same question in multiple forms, which essentially is, “How much music can I sample without getting sued?” Unfortunately, too many people believe too many urban myths about music sampling and how much is permitted to be used without a license from the copyright owner. The law is complicated and there is no clear line. So, what is the best course of action to take if you are going to sample music?

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Can You Register a Hashtag Trademark?

hashtag trademark

Is there such a thing as a hashtag trademark? In the US, a hashtag can be registered as a trademark under certain circumstances. Social media hashtags have recently and rapidly become universal marketing tools. Many companies have attempted to trademark their hashtags. Just since 2013, over 600 federal trademark applications have been submitted for hashtag trademarks. It is not uncommon for a company to register it’s slogans or tag lines to protect those trademarks and prevent competitors from using them. A hashtag trademark is the same basic concept. Continue reading “Can You Register a Hashtag Trademark?”

Celebrity Trademark – Protecting a Name

celebrity trademark

Can a celebrity trademark their name based on their celebrity status? Absolutely. Celebrities frequently apply for protection from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) based on the distinctive nature of their name and (sometimes questionable) talent. Celebrity almost always brings immediate branding opportunities: capitalizing on the celebrity status of one’s name to market and sell clothing lines, perfume and home décor. This applies to actors, singers, artists, writers, and performers of all types. Unfortunately, even reality stars have certain rights to protect their names under trademark law.

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Clothing Design – Copyright, Trademark and Patent

clothing design

Fabric patterns can be protected under copyright law, however, the actual clothing design is generally not protected by copyright law. Trademark protection could apply to the label, iconic designs and famous designer names, and patent could apply to novel functions or ornamental designs. The reason knock-off designs and styles are readily available to consumers is because legally speaking making a direct or substantially similar copy of a clothing design, in most circumstances, is legal. Copyright law does not protect any utilitarian aspects in design. Continue reading “Clothing Design – Copyright, Trademark and Patent”

The California Art Preservation Act (CAPA)


The State of California enacted the California Art Preservation Act (CAPA) of 1979, eleven years before the United States Congress enacted the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). CAPA was intended to protect the works of California visual artists. An understanding of VARA is critical because the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution provides federal law preempts state law. To the extent these laws conflict, the terms of VARA shall apply. However, there are some differences between VARA and CAPA which are critical to artists and businesses dealing with artwork in the State of California.

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