Trademark

UK High Court forces ISPs to block websites selling luxury goods

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The British High Court of Justice as been the venue for a few noteworthy cases that have resulted in British ISPs being forced to block certain infringing websites. These have usually involved entertainment giants that want to make it harder for illegal file-sharing or peer-to-peer sites to connect with their users. The court has now given the ISPs a new target: websites selling counterfeit goods. Thought to be the first ruling of its kind in Europe, the High Court has today ordered that Sky, BT, Virgin, EE and TalkTalk (which collectively provide 95% of all British broadband) must block a handful of websites that sell fake versions of products made by luxury brands such as Cartier and Mont Blanc.

The judgement was based on a theory of trademark infringement The sites use real brand names and logos to appear to offer legitimate luxury items at deeply discounted prices. After discussions with British ISPs failed, Richemond, the parent company that owns the aforementioned brands, resorted to a lawsuit. The websites ISPs are being forced to block barely scratch the surface of infringing online retailers, and Richemond has thousands more to hand that it could go after in future litigation. More importantly, though, the ruling could set a precedent that will lead other companies to pursue similar action. Don't expect that the ruling will have any long-term impact. For every infringing site that is shut down, multiple replacements appear within days.

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Microsoft considers rebranding Internet Explorer

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Microsoft has had discussions about renaming Internet Explorer to distance the browser from its tarnished image, according to developer team members in a Reddit session last week.

In spite of significant investment in the browser (current version is Internet Explorer 11) many still view the browser as infamous for lack of support after version 6. Microsoft has been working to recruit developers and get them to give the browser a second chance, but Microsoft still faces many challenges.

Rebranding could be seen as a way of breaking from the past and distancing the new, better performing browser from its legacy. The team was asked if it had considered renaming, and the answer was yes. The browser developers noted that the discussion was "very recent" and remarked "Who knows what the future holds."

The company also confirmed that in spite of a new policy that offers new features in the regular monthly updates to the browser, there will still be new major versions in the future.

This is significant because of the new support policy that will see Microsoft only support the current version of its browser on each version of Windows, when previously it supported every version that works. The release of Internet Explorer 12 (or whatever the name ends up being) will reset that support window.

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Album Packaging

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Album Name

Names, titles, and short phrases or expressions are not subject to copyright protection, so you can use a title that has been used before, but you should stay away from trademarked names. They are the exclusive property of trademark owners who may sue.

Credits

You should credit the performances, the master recording, artwork, photographs, and music. Although not required, it is common courtesy and may help avoid legal problems.

Performances - All performances on the album should be credited. An exception to this rule occurs when a performer has waived his or her credit line in a work-for-hire agreement. Producer or sideman agreements may contain specific wording or placement requirements that should be followed.

Master Recording - Who owns the copyright in the master recording? Copyright in a sound recording protects the particular series of sounds fixed in the recording against unauthorized reproduction or distribution. This copyright is distinct from copyright in the actual songs and is usually owned by the record company. A copyright notice is not technically required, but is recommended. It is common practice to include the following statement after the notice: "This work is protected under the copyright laws and any unauthorized duplication or distribution is prohibited by law." Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not required. But, like notice, it is recommended.

Artwork - Artwork is copyrighted separately, and you must secure permission to use any artwork not owned by the band. When obtaining permission, the terms of the license or assignment should be put in writing. Putting the copyright notice on both the jewel case and the tray card is recommended. When the owner of the sound recording also owns the copyright in the artwork, the copyright notice for the two properties can be combined.

Music - A single copyright notice may be used if all the compositions are written by the artist (controlled by one publisher.) For compositions written by other writers, a separate copyright notice should be provided for each song. Writing credits should appear below the title of each song whether original or cover. Each writer's name should be provided. A first initial and last name is sufficient.

Song Lyrics

Rights to record a cover song do not include the rights to print the lyrics. Those rights must be obtained separately from the copyright owner (the publisher or the publisher's agent.)

Notice of Trademark and Service Marks

Do you have the right to use the name of your band and the name of your label? Prior to registration, the designation TM should be placed on the right hand shoulder of the name or logo. Once a federal trademark is registered, the mark should be changed to ®.

Photo Releases

Any recognizable person appearing on your album has a right to publicity. Photos and any other images of people should be cleared in advance.

Bar Code

For retail sales, the product must have a UPC Code or bar code. Most album duplicators will provide a barcode at no additional cost. If you plan to register with SoundScan, a company that tracks music retail sales, be sure that the barcode is specifically for your album. For more information about barcodes, talk to your manufacturer or check out the Uniform Code Council.

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Band Partnership Agreements

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If you band plans on making a profit or selling tickets, CDs, or merchandise at shows, you have to treat your band or act as a business.

If your band plans on making a profit or selling tickets, CDs, or merchandise at shows, you have to treat your band or act as a business. If you are a singer/songwriter, this topic may not apply to you. However, this can be useful even for solo artists who routinely perform or record with other artists. It is smart to discuss business and clarify responsibilities while everyone is getting along. Such agreements can help prevent conflicts or at least protect everyone involved in case a conflict is not solvable. This agreement should be in writing, which reduces the risk of a misunderstanding.

If your band or group sells tickets, your music, or merchandise, you almost certainly need a Band Partnership Agreement. Below is a list of issues these agreements typically address. (This is list is not exclusive and you should consult an attorney for the best protection.)

Money

- How will profits/debts be distributed?
- Who keeps track of the books and how?
- How are performance fees and royalties distributed?

Business Decisions

- How will decisions be made?
- Who will make the decisions?
- How will disputes be resolved?
- What type of legal structure will the band have?
- What are the tax liabilities for band members?

Band Name

- Who owns rights in the band name or logo?
- Should the name or logo be trademarked?
- What happens if the band breaks up? What if a member quits? What happens to the name?

Band Property

- How will the band purchase equipment?
- How will it be stored and transported?
- Is there a need for insurance?

Creative Decisions

- Who owns the songs?
- Who decides which songs to perform or record?
- How is songwriting credit determined and given?
- Who owns the master of the recordings?

Touring/Performances

- Who decides which shows to play?

Band Members

-How are new members added or existing members expelled?

A simple Band Partnership Agreement can be written by one of the members of the group and signed by all members. You can sometimes find free templates in books and online. If you find these forms do not fit your needs or you have questions, you should contact an attorney familiar with entertainment law matters.

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