On March 20, 2015, a jury awarded $7.4 million to the family of artist Marvin Gaye for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s alleged infringement of Gaye’s song “Got to Give it Up.”  Gaye’s family alleged that Pharrell and Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” infringed Gaye’s intellectual property rights.  Although many have viewed the trial as a comparison of the two songs, most testimony during the trial centered around the similarities between certain chords and notes contained in the two songs.  Pharrell and Thicke have not stated whether they plan to appeal the copyright infringement ruling.

Allegations of Copyright Infringement against Pharrell and Thicke

Although the allegation of infringement revolves around Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up,” the evidence at trial focused on the sheet music that Gaye submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Particularly, experts debated the similarities between Gaye’s sheet music and Pharrell and Thicke’s actual song.  Although Gaye’s sheet music lacked many elements of the final version of “Got to Give it Up,” an expert testifying for Gaye’s family opined that there were at least eight (8) distinct elements from “Got to Give it Up” contained in the song “Blurred Lines.”

Protect Yourself

Intellectual property issues are common in the music industry.  As we have previously blogged, Sirius XM Radio has been defending numerous copyright claims asserted by Flo & Eddie.  It is important that knowledgeable counsel be retained to avoid copyright litigation.