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Court Cases on Copyrights and Trademarks
Listed Alphabetically

There's a lot of information on the internet but it can take hours to locate what you want. Sometines, a really good page disappears when you go back to it. These are court cases we've found that we think have relevant information. In some cases all we have are notes about the cases. When possible we have the entire decision. Understanding the Federal Court System isn't all that easy.

When someone posts information on the internet, they want it readily available to others. We help that along by reproducing the information and citing the source whenever possible. Information and education is the highway to freedom. With the individual cases we are also posting a synopsis called "Issues" to give you a "quickie" look at the case to see if you are interested. These cases were not selected becasue they presented earth-shaking decisions but more because the reasoning of the different courts presented arguments that you might be able to use in the future. Courts are persuaded more by logical arguments that support the facts of the case at hand than by emotional pleas. Most of these cases will also have selected quotes after the "Issues" link.

Why list so many court cases? So you can get an idea of what the courts are saying about something. While the different circuits may not agree on all issues (that is where the Supreme Court gets into the act) you will see that they are very close. While each case is different, the underlying application of the law is not. In the "Abreviations" (listed after "Issues") we have selectively gathered statements from these decisions that are relevant to the contemt of these pages. We attempt to present the "law" as it is applied; not the law as we would like it to be. We DO NOT select only cases that support our position as some people claim. Our position is based upon court decisions.

Court cases often cite past cases and other legal references. To understand citations better, CLICK HERE. Courts are very conscious of precedent and follow previous rulings closely. If a circuit has no precedent if will draw from the decisions of other circuits. These cases were selected because they appear often in cases concerning intellectual property.
For federal court cases presented by federal circuit, click here.
For federal court cases presented by Subject , click here.
For federal court cases presented by Selected Quotes by Category, click here.





  • Dastar Corp vs Twentieth Century Fox, 537 U.S. 1099 (2003). .Twentieth Century Fox produced a TV series based upon General Eiseenhower's book, "Crusade In Europe" and failed to renew the copyright before it lapsed. Twentieth Century Fox reacquired the rights to the book. Dastar bought old copies of the TV series and released them as its own. Fox claimed trademark infringement. The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's decisions saying the TV show was public domain and Fox could not claim infringement. Good discussion of "origin" of products.

  • Davidoff v PLD International, 263 F.3d 1297 (11th Cir. 2001). PLD was acquiting product manufacutured by Davidoff and reselling it after removing the etched product codes from the bottles. The court found that the removal of the product codes disfigured the bottles to the point that a consumber would likely conclude there had been tampering. That created a material difference and PLD was enjoinded from reselling the prodicts.
    ISSUES, Trademark infringement, Material Difference

  • Dial-A-Mattress v Page, 880 F.2d 675 (2nd Cir 1991). Page began using a telephone number similar to the one used by Dial-A-Mattress. Court upheld ruling that a telephone number can be considered a trademark anf therefore protectible under trademark laws. Page lost.
    ISSUES, Generic Trademark

  • Dudnikov v. Chalk & Vermilion Fine Arts Inc.,, 514 F.3d 1063 (10th Cir. 2008). Sevenarts, owner to the rights of Erte a designer and artist, objected to fabric depicting Betty Boop wearing an Erte gown and ordered eBay to terminate the auctions. When sued, Defendants filed to dismiss stating a lack of jurisdiction. Appeals Court found for Plaintiffs saying that a notice of claimed infringement was grounds for jurisdiction. ISSUES, Jurisdiction, NOCI






  • Iberia Foods v Rolando Romeo,, 150 F.3d 298 (3rd Cir 1998). Rol-Rom Foods purchases Mistolin products on the open market in Puerto Rico and sells them in New York and New Jersey at a substantial discount from Iberia's price. Iberia contended that by buying Mistolin in Puerto Rico and selling it in the continental United States, Rol-Rom had circumvented the quality control measures enforced by Iberia on all the Mistolin products it sold and sued for trademark infringement. The court of appeals rejected the argument because the quality controls measures appeared to be minimal and ruled for the defendant.
    ISSUES, gray goods, material difference, Quality control






  • NEC Electronics v Cal Circuit, 810 F.2d 1506 (9th Cir. 1987). Cal Circuit was buying NEC computer chips overseas and reselling them in the US. NEC USA sued for trademark infringement. The court of appeals stated that since the computer chips were the same as the ones sold in the US by NEC there was no infringement.

  • New Kids v News America, 971 F.2d 302 (9th Cir 1992). New Kids On The Block sued two newspapers because the papers used their names in unauthorized promotions. Often quoted decision involving The Fair Use Doctrine. Court ruled against New Kids.
    ISSUES, Trademark definition, Fair use, Nominative fair use, Profit
    See also Trademark Infringement -Perceived meaning of the mark, by Sam Biers for Discusses New Kids On The Block ruling by the 9th Circuit. December 12, 1997

  • Nitro Leisure v Acushnet, 341 F.3d 1356 (Fed Cir 2003). Acushnet makes golf balls. Nitro acquires used golf balls, repairs and refurbishes them, and then resells them with a disclaimer on the box. During refurbishing, Nitro sometimes reapplied the Acushnet tradmark to the golf balls. Court of appeals said used goods have a lower consumer expectation and affirmed that there was no infringement.
    ISSUES, Used products, material differences



  • CM Paula v Logan, 355 F.Supp. 189 (ND TX 1973). Logan was buying cards sold by Paula and removing the images and tranferring those images onto cermaic tiles. Since Logan was using one card per tile, the court concluded there was no copying. However the court did require Logan to begin using a disclaimer.
    ISSUES First sale doctrine Disclaimers

  • Pizza Hut v Papa Johns,227 F.3d 489 (5th Cir 2000). Pizza Hut sued Papa Johns claiming false advertising under the Lanham Act for the use of "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza". Pizza Hut won a jury trial but lost on appeal when the Appeals Court ruled that as a matter of law, "puffery" was not actionable.
    ISSUES, Puffery, False advertising

  • Polymer Technology Corp. v. Mimran, 37 F.3d 74 (2nd Cir 1994). Polymer sued to stop Mimran from buying its promotional products and then reselling them. The court said it was not illegal.
    ISSUES, Quality control (trademark), Unauthorized distribution, Labeling

  • Precious Moments v La Infantil, 971 F. Supp. 66 (D.P.R. 1997). Precious Moments sues to stop La Infantil from making and selling bedding from copyrighted, licensed fabric. Court ruled bedding items manufactured with lawfully acquired, authentic fabric with copyrighted design were not infringing derivative works, Court did require La Infantil to attach a notice with a disclaimer. Precious Moments lost because of the First Sale Doctrine.
    ISSUES Derivatives, Disclaimers

  • t ProCD v. Matthew Zeidenberg, 37 F.3d 74 (7th Cir 1994). Matthew Zeidenberg bought a consumer package of SelectPhone (trademark) in 1994 from a retail outlet in Madison, Wisconsin, but decided to ignore the shrinkwrap license. ProCD sued, citing the license agreemnt. The District Court rejected the license argument and ruled for Zeidenberg. Seventh Court of Appeals reversed using faulty logic. This was a bad decision.
    See also Contract Formation and the Shrink Wrap License: A Case Comment on ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg, A lengthy paper by Robert J. Morrill which talks about ProCD and shrink-wrap licenses and why the court got it wrong in this case. And ProCD Inc. v. Zeidenberg concerns "shrinkwrap licensing agreements". Excerpted article.



  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum v. Gentile Productions, 134 F.3d 749 (6th Cir, 1998). Photographer took a picture of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and put it on a poster with the name. The name and the building were trademarked. Hall of Fame sued. They had their own posters and didn't want competition. Court denied the Hall of Fame claims for trademark infringement claiming "Fair Use" in the use of the name and a picture of the building.
    ISSUES, Trademark definition

  • Herbert Rosenthal Jewelry Corp. v. Kalpakian, 446 F. 2d 738 (9th Cir 1971). Rosenthal charged Kalpakian with infringing his copyright registration of a pin in the shape of a bee formed of gold encrusted with jewels. The court of appeals rejected Rosenthal's understanding that his copyright would effectively prevent others from engaging in the business of manufacturing and selling jeweled bees. The court went into a lengthly discussion of copyright "ideas" and copyright "expression", ideas not being copyrightable.
    ISSUES, Patents, Copyright Registration, Copyright Idea & Expression, Copyright Monopoly





  • Timothy Vernor v Autodesk C07-1189RAJ, (Sept 2009 9th Cir W. Wash) Order by District Judge stating that Autodesk's software was SOLD NOT LICENSED and that the Plaintiff, Timothy Vernor was entitled to use the First Sale Doctrine as a defense to alleged copyright infringement. This ruling is being appealed.
    See also Court smacks Autodesk, affirms right to sell used software by Timothy B. Lee, published: May 23, 2008 for ars Technia





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A Cup Of Joe For A Joe
by Green Beans Coffee Company
Karen and Mike, also known to you as Tabberone, have been actively participating in various troop support programs for a number of years. An important one we have discovered and supported is one run by the Green Beans Coffee Company of Larkspur, California. The Green Beans Coffee Company runs coffee houses in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Middle East and at other US military bases around the world. Your donations are converted into email chits that are randomly given to military personal who are based near these coffee houses. You are then sent an email by Green Beans Coffee telling at what location your donation(s) was distributed. The military recipient of your donation is also given the opportunity to email you a thank you with a message, which many of them do.

Modern military deployment has changed very much since WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Back then there was no internet or cell phones. A soldier very rarely could call home or even go home on leave. But modern deployment does not alter the dangers they face. Green Beans Coffee is one of the little pleasures they can enjoy. Any donation makes a service man or service woman smile. We contribute every month.

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