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Copyright Challenges: Software as a Work for Hire?

Who Really Owns My Company’s Software, or How Does the Work for Hire Exception to the Copyright Act of 1976 Effect Computer Software? The Copyright Act of 1976 gives the author of a copyrightable work protection through Federal law. Generally, this means that the creator of the work enjoys intellectual property rights, including legal protection from infringement – meaning, protection against having someone else copy the work. However, there is a “work for hire” exception. This doctrine applies either (a) when employees create works within the scope of their employment, or (b) where someone (we’ll call this person the “employer”…

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Unzipping California’s Zip Code Restriction

When Can California Businesses Request a Customer’s Zip Code? In February, the California Supreme Court held that businesses are no longer allowed to request zip codes from customers. In  Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc., the court held that a zip code is “personal identification information” under the 1971 Song Beverly Credit Card Act (California Civil Code § 1747.08). Under the Act, a business may not request or require the cardholder to give any personal identification information during a credit card transaction. The Act includes addresses and phone numbers under personal identification information, and the California Supreme Court held that zip codes…

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A Case of Rum

A few months ago I discussed the potential legal implications of Anheuser Busch’s application to protect the 619 area code as a trademark for beer. Geographic trademarks appear to be increasingly attractive to marketers, as consumers tend to react positively to goods that purport to come from certain locations – think of Wisconsin for cheese. While it remains to see how the 619 trademark application will unfold, a recent case provides insight into using location as a marketing tool. Recently, rum giant Bacardi obtained a favorable ruling (link leads to the court opinion) in their legal dispute with Pernod (a…

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Is Missoni’s Zig Zag Design a Trademark?

This week, the Italian design house Missoni debuted a line at discount retailer Target, resulting in sell-outs, website crashes, eBay markups, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, and so on. Clearly, Missoni is a popular brand. Upon information and belief (that’s lawyer-speak for “somebody told me”), Missoni is known for incorporating zig-zag patterns into their designs. A quick Google Image search confirms this. Even the little image that appears next to http://www.missoni.com/ in my browser bar is a zig-zag:   So, the question is, can the zig-zag patterns be protected under U.S. intellectual property law?

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