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It is hard to imagine the current U.S. Supreme Court agreeing on something as simple as their lunch order in a time when 5-4 decisions feel like the norm. So, when it unanimously agrees, one might conclude that the question at hand was not very difficult. Not so here. In Fourth Estate Pub. Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, No. 17-571 (March 4, 2019), the Supreme Court resolved a circuit split decades in the making by holding that a copyright is not “registered” within the meaning of the Copyright Act unless and until a registration certificate actually has issued. The Supreme Court’s short opinion upheld an Eleventh Circuit decision, and undertook no more than a simple statutory construction analysis, finding that the plain language of the Copyright Act cannot be ignored because of hypothetical ill effects, especially ones fully within the purview of Congress to fix. A plaintiff cannot sue for copyright infringement until registration has issued, or been denied by the Copyright Office; a mere pending application will not suffice.
By Dana Justus and Monica Riva Talley
This case should determine the availability of federal trademark registration for “immoral” and “scandalous” marks – in this case, the acronym “FUCT” for a clothing line.
By Arthur Beeman
The Federal Circuit’s Threat to Software Innovation in the Oracle v. GoogleDecisions<
The Federal Circuit decisions in the Oracle v. Google copyright case rattled Silicon Valley not simply because the decisions upended software developers’ understandings of copyright law, but also because the decisions do not comport with the disruptive ethos of the technology industry.
By Christine E. Weller
In celebration of International Women’s Day two years ago, State Street Global Advisors unveiled Fearless Girl at Bowling Green in the Financial District in Manhattan. Commissioned by State Street from the artist Kristen Visbal, the work has since become a part of the zeitgeist amidst global conversations about gender parity, diversity, and inclusion on a broader scale. Now, some two years later, Fearless Girl is raising additional intellectual property questions.
By J. Alexander Lawrence
Since the advent of the Internet, the music industry has been in a pitched battle to combat online piracy. Initially, the industry focused on shutting down services that offered peer-to-peer or other similar platforms, such as Napster, Aimster and Grokster. For a time, the industry also focused on filing claims against individual infringers to dissuade others from engaging similar conduct. In recent years, the industry seems to have shifted focus toward Internet Service Providers.