SCOTUS rules on fashion standards, House Judiciary approves a bill to make Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee, and more in this issue of IP Buzz

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Star Athletica LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. et al.: Just as in Fashion, the Old Standard Returns

Last week, the Supreme Court clarified the test for copyright protection of design elements in useful articles. While useful articles are not protected under the Copyright Act, 17 U. S. C. § 101, pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features of the design of a useful article are eligible for copyright protection if those features "can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article." Despite what appears to be a clear statutory directive, application of this "separability standard" has proved difficult and unpredictable. This article discusses the breadth of the recent Star Athletica LLC decision and its implications for not only the fashion industry, but also industrial design, and nearly every other field that combines design and utility.

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House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill to Make Register of Copyrights a Presidential Appointee

On March 29, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee approved the "Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017." This legislation would, among other things, make the U.S. Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee. This bill was introduced in response to the abrupt removal of former U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante in October 2016 by the Librarian of Congress. This caused much controversy in the copyright community.

This bill has generally enjoyed bi-partisan support and next must be passed by the House. It is important to those in the copyright community because, not only would the President appoint the new Register after Senate confirmation, but the President could only remove the Register upon notification to both the House and the Senate. Please contact Venable's Copyright Team for more information.

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Don't Let Your Ads Foul Out

Every March, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) gears up to host its annual men's college basketball tournament. However, the basketball court is not the only place where the stakes are high. The NCAA polices its valuable basketball-related trademarks aggressively, and marketers who try to generate sales by using one of its marks – or even marks that may imply an association with the tournament – will quickly find themselves in a whole different kind of court.

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NIST in the Private Sector

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a non-regulatory agency within the Department of Commerce, is responsible for developing technology, metrics, and standards for federal agencies. Although relatively small and unknown by the public, it is a leader in the data protection, cybersecurity, and privacy fields. In recent years, its reach and influence in such fields have begun to extend to the private sector. Although relatively unknown by the general public, NIST has been providing valuable input to the data protection, cybersecurity, and privacy fields for many years. Recently, its reach and influence has grown along with cybersecurity concerns in all sectors.

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A Timely Reminder to Re-Examine Your IP Clearance Protocol

While Kraft v. Anheuser-Busch, LLC may sound like an epic showdown in a college refrigerator, it is actually a recent lawsuit alleging copyright infringement, invasion of privacy, and violation of the plaintiff's right of publicity. The case should serve as a wakeup call for brands that use images or content submitted via social media in their advertising campaigns.

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Venable Rocks the Whisky a Go Go

Venable rocked West Hollywood last Saturday night. IP partners, Andrew Price and Damon Wright, are members of an alt-rock band, Noise in the Basement, that recently played at the legendary Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood, California on March 25. The band competed against other law firm rock bands in a battle of the bands competition organized by Law Rocks. The band initially won the Law Rocks DC competition, raising more than $20,000 for local charity and pro bono client, Together We Bake. Following up to this win in September, the band was invited to play in Los Angeles and raised an additional $3,000 for Together We Bake. Click here to view the performance.


Legal Compliance…I Choose You! An IP Discussion of Augmented Reality

April 5, 2017 | American Bar Association's 32nd Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference | Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

Using the recent release of an immensely popular mobile augmented reality video game, panelists, including San Francisco counsel Kimberly Culp, will explore and discuss the legal issues that are at the forefront of augmented reality video game application development, providing attendees with the necessary tools to recognize and address the challenges that clients or businesses may currently be facing or will be facing in the future. Visit the 32nd Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference webpage for more information.