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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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Are Cloud Music Services Legal?


Over a decade ago, a teenage Sean Parker took on the music establishment with his basement project Napster and the industry has never been the same since. While Napster was ultimately shut down, various online music download services have continued to sprout up. The latest trend involves “Cloud Music Services” such as Amazon’s Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and Google’s Music Beta, both of which launched within the last 6 months. Music “clouds” are services that store your music on the Web and allow you to stream those songs to any computer or mobile device, such as a computer or…

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