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In Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (2017), the trademark case involving the name of the Asian-American rock band The Slants, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the portion of §2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(a), that prohibits the federal registration of potentially disparaging trademarks and service marks, violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The eight justices participating in the case agreed that the prohibition constituted a viewpoint-based government restriction, but they divided evenly on the constitutional significance of that consideration. Whatever the resolution of that division ultimately may be, though, the outcome of the litigation is unlikely to affect the validity of most — but not necessarily all — of the Lanham Act’s other prohibitions on registration. This is an important consideration in the entertainment industry in which products with outrageous names are common.
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By Stan Soocher
In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, under 17 U.S.C. §411(a), “registration occurs, and a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit, when the Copyright Office registers a copyright” — that is, acts on a registration application, rather than when an applicant delivers the registration materials to the Copyright Office.
By Karen Hoffman Lent and Kenneth Schwartz
In November, the DOJ asked a federal district court to terminate the Paramount Consent Decrees, a set of rules governing major film studios for the last 70 years. In effect, these rules prohibited movie studios from owning downstream movie theaters and banned a variety of vertical agreements, such as block booking — the practice of bundling multiple films into one theater license.
By P.J. D’Annunzio
A federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a Philadelphia lawyer’s suit alleging that Los Angeles litigation boutique Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht acted in bad faith by failing to follow through with a $160,000 settlement in a dispute over attorney fees.
By Frank Ready
A new esports-centric survey released by the law firm of Foley & Lardner projects that esports revenues will climb above the $1 billion mark this year. But the increased stakes and growing sophistication of the industry will likely not be without their headaches.