Many people in New Jersey are fans of Stan Lee's work; the comic book characters the artist created, like Spider-Man and the Avengers, are loved by millions. However, at the end of his life, a battle began to arise over the rights to his vast swath of intellectual property. In September 2019, Lee's daughter, through the Lee Family Survivors' Trust, filed a lawsuit alleging that his creations had been "looted" by POW! Entertainment since 2001. The claim follows the death of the famed comic creator at 95 in November 2018.
New Jersey residents who follow developments in the entertainment industry may know that Ariana Grande has taken legal action against the fashion retailer Forever 21 and its beauty products spinoff brand Riley Rose. In her lawsuit, the popular singer claims that the California-based company used images of her without consent and even went so far as to hire a look-alike model in order to fool the public. Grande is seeking damages of $10 million for alleged copyright and trademark infringement.
When a person or company in New Jersey or anywhere else in the United States comes up with a new idea, it may be possible to protect it. According to the University of California, five major companies have infringed on patents related to LED light bulb technology. Amazon, Walmart and Ikea are among the companies that were named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit is asking that the retailers enter into licensing agreements to use the filament LED bulb technology.
New Jersey readers have likely noticed Amazon trucks with "Prime" written on the side of them while traveling area roadways. However, Prime Inc., a Missouri-based trucking company, claims the retail giant's use of the word on its vehicles amounts to trademark infringement.
As part of a $12 million settlement paid to the park's former concessionaire, many of the names for locations in Yosemite National Park were changed back to their original names. The lawsuit was originally filed when a new company took over many of the park's concessions and hospitality services and changed the names of many iconic locations. The result of this lawsuit could also affect the naming of locations in national parks in New Jersey and other states.
Inventors and businesses in New Jersey and around the country obtain patents to protect their inventions, processes and designs, and they may pursue legal remedies when others use their original ideas without permission. These cases are usually complex, and patent infringement lawsuits sometimes drag on for years. A recent patent dispute case that included the Alabama-based company Return Mail and the US Postal Service was decided by the US Supreme Court. With a majority vote of 6-3, the justices ruled that the agency had infringed on intellectual property rights protected by a patent.
Individuals or companies in New Jersey and around the country must apply for trademarks or patents if they wish to protect inventions, formulas, symbols or designs, but copyrights are issued automatically. However, intellectual property owners who wish to take legal action against copyright infringers must first register their original works with the U.S. Copyright Office. District courts have made contradictory rulings in this area, but any confusion over the issue was cleared up by a recent Supreme Court ruling.
Many people in New Jersey remember the classic opening theme song of "The Andy Griffith Show," which aired on CBS from 1960 to 1968. Now, the tune is the subject of a legal dispute as heirs of its composer allege that CBS continues to use the song without a proper license. The song, known as "Theme for the Andy Griffith Show," was written in the 1950s by two songwriters who later registered its copyright in 1960. The songwriters later gave the rights to the song to the Larabee Music partnership and passed them on after death to two trusts.
A complicated aspect of business innovation in New Jersey and throughout the world is how to protect a product and prevent infringement on intellectual property. This is a prominent issue with drug makers. In May, a drug maker embroiled in a patent dispute over Humira reached a settlement over the issue.
A growing number of people in New Jersey and across the country rely on online streaming sites like Spotify or Netflix for their favorite movies, TV shows, music and other content. The industry is bringing in a significant amount of money and has, over the years, been the subject of a number of copyright disputes. While the passage of laws like the Music Modernization Act has helped to set a standard moving forward for streaming firms to follow, there are still active legal cases pending that address the issue of streaming providers' responsibility for mechanical licensing.