Summary: Our regular update on developments in the world of IP, this week featuring a US copyright case relating to the alleged copyright infringement by Justin Bieber with his hit song “Sorry”; an upcoming US Supreme Court case in which the US law on the protection of fashion items will be reviewed; and also a case confirming that the UKIPO’s procedure which allows similar trade marks to be filed together as a series of marks is compatible with EU law.
Music and Copyright
Are you a Belieber or does Justin have to say ‘Sorry’ to artist Winter Hinterland for allegedly copying the opening bars of their song ‘Ring the Bell’? The case is being brought in the US, but if the sound recording was not sampled but the repeated four note musical phrase was copied (which is denied), it could still be an infringement under UK law if that phrase represented the “intellectual creation” of the original songwriter.
Fashion and US Copyright
The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case regarding cheerleader uniforms to review US copyright protection of fashion designs. Unlike in Europe where fashion designs are easily protected by a mix of copyright and design rights (usually both), the US copyright test requires the separation of the aesthetic elements from the utilitarian elements of a fashion design before copyright can subsist. Attempts to introduce a new law to protect fashion items in the US have so far been unsuccessful.
Series Marks and Trade Marks
The Court of Appeal has confirmed that the UKIPO's procedure which allows similar trade marks to be filed together as a series of marks is compatible with EU law (the Glee case). The series application results in a bundle of individual trade marks, and the previous view expressed in earlier cases that the marks had to be indistinguishable from each other to the average consumer was wrong.