The New Axanar-Inspired Guidelines for Star Trek Fan Films

If you’ve been tuned at all to developments in the science fiction or intellectual property fields, you know that Paramount Pictures and CBS have been pursuing copyright infringement litigation against the producers of a Star Trek fan-fiction movie called Axanar. The fan/producers published the 20-minute teaser Prelude to Axanar on YouTube in August 2014 (which as of […]

Supreme Court Gives Guidance on Award of Fees in Copyright Cases

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its unanimous opinion in the Kirtsaeng case, concerning the standards that govern the award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party as an element of “costs” under the Copyright Act. The statute itself does not give guidance on when fees should be awarded. Prior Supreme Court case law was […]

Feeling Minnesota: Has Prince’s Right of Publicity Disappeared?

In the unlikely event that any West Coast celebrities out there had been considering a move to Minnesota, an article published today on will give them pause. It makes the insightful observation that the late artist Prince’s decision to remain domiciled in his home state may have cost his heirs (whoever they turn out to be) the […]

Updated: Michigan Trademark Law Treatise

This is a quick update to let you know that a treatise chapter I authored on Michigan trademark law has just been updated. If you subscribe to the Practical Law resource website from Thomson Reuters, you can access the chapter here. It’s a concise Q&A-style guide to Michigan laws protecting trademarks. This Q&A addresses state laws governing trademark […]

PODCAST: 2016 Update on the Right of Publicity

This afternoon I presented to the Michigan IP Law Association on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Recent Developments in Right of Publicity Law.” Just over 30 minutes long, this speech gives a concise summary of what the Right of Publicity is, and how case law interpreting it has developed over the past few […]

Trademark Owners – Don’t Get Scammed By These Deceptive Invoices

Without fail, every time I apply to register a trademark, either I or my client will receive in the mail an “invoice” from some company I’ve never heard of. It will be styled in neutral, official-sounding language such as “filing fee” or “application fee,” and on first glance there will be no indication that I have […]

God, Green Day, and Copyright – How Punk Rockers Affirmed Fair Use Rights in Worship Services

I love God, and I love copyright law. As a result, one of my longtime academic interests has been the role of copyright law in the creative communications that take place every week in worship services across the country. Specifically, I’ve written (here and here) on whether, and to what extent, the fair use doctrine permits pastors […]

Recently Published Applications for Virtual Reality Trademarks

Every week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office publishes a Gazette full of trademark applications that it has “allowed.” This means that the marks will be registered as requested unless someone steps in to oppose the registration within the 30-day period following the publication. Keeping an eye on this Gazette (or having your attorney do so) […]

VR Modeling Has a Lot of Benefits, But Copyright Isn’t One of Them

With the surging popularity of virtual reality technologies has come a wave of companies creating content for virtual worlds.  This includes not only the design of new and fanciful creations, but also scans of the existing, physical world.  A lot of scans. The demand for virtual recreations of the physical world is more than understandable. “The […]

Is Ascribe the Answer to the Web’s Infringement Problem? [UPDATED]

“The end of piracy?” That’s one of the breathless sub-headers from TNW’s recent article about Ascribe, a German start-up.  Ascribe uses blockchain technology–the same string of software used in Bitcoin crypto-currency–to authenticate works of digital art. Artists submit their works to the service, and receive in return a unique bit of code that identifies the work as belonging […]