The case was unusual because in a pre-trial hearing, the judge ruled that the applicable 1909 copyright law only covered sheet music, not the song’s actual sound. The judge later reversed his decision, ordering Williams and Thicke’s lawyers to produce an audio recording of “Got To Give It Up” that only included a bass line and keyboard chords underneath some vocals from Gaye. This was the only version of “Got To Give It Up” that the jury was permitted to hear to compare with “Blurred Lines.”
According to an unofficial English-translated copy (PDF) of the judgment, Spiegel Online argued it was making a “unified offer” to online consumers. Essentially, that offer is: read the news content for free and view some ads. While Internet users have the freedom “not to access this unified offer,” neither they nor Adblock Plus have the right to “dismantle” it. Eyeo’s behavior thus amounted to unfair competition, and it could even wipe the offer out, Spiegel claimed.
HP has been sabotaging OfficeJet printers with firmware that prevents use of non-HP ink cartridges and even HP cartridges that have been refilled, forcing customers to buy more expensive ink directly from HP. The self-destruct mechanism informs customers that their ink cartridges are “damaged” and must be replaced.
“The software update that prevented the use of third-party ink was reportedly distributed in March, but this anti-feature itself wasn’t activated until September,” EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow wrote in a letter to HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler. “That means that HP knew, for at least six months, that some of its customers were buying your products because they believed they were compatible with any manufacturer’s ink, while you had already planted a countdown timer in their property that would take this feature away. Your customers will have replaced their existing printers, or made purchasing recommendations to friends who trusted them on this basis. They are now left with a less useful printer—and possibly a stockpile of useless third-party ink cartridges.”
Media.net and Netseer both offer contextual advertising services. Their clients place ad units on their website and, when visitors click on ads, they are taken to a “search results” page. Media.net accused Netseer of copyright infringement and various state law claims. Media.net alleges that Netseer copied Media.net’s HTML that generates the search results pages. While the parties disputed what the material sought to be copyrighted consisted of, it appeared that the bulk of it was a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) markup. HTML is what you see when you click on “view source” on a webpage and is the basic outline of what when viewed in a browser looks like a webpage. CSS is, in rough terms, a set of formatting rules for a web page or site. A website’s HTML code will often include CSS. (This is a really simplistic description at best.)
Apparently, the parties competed for the services of a big client (Microsoft), and Media.net alleges that Netseer’s unauthorized use of Media.net’s code helped it gain an unfair advantage in negotiations. The key question is whether the HTML code is copyrightable at all. What aspects of a website (other than the content) is copyrightable is always a tough question.
Med Script Pharm., LLC v. My Script, LLC, No. 14 C 469, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 11, 2014 (Gettleman, J.).
Judge Gettleman granted in part defendants’ various Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss plaintiff Med Script’s Lanham Act false advertising and other state law claims. Of particular note, the Court held as follows:
Plaintiff Med Script’s fraud-based complaints, except civil conspiracy, were sufficiently pled pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b). It was enough that Med Script pled that defendants’ employees falsely told Med Script’s customers that Med Script was out of business and had changed its name to My Script. Med Script was not required to identify the specific employees that made the statement.
Med Script’s civil conspiracy was not pled with sufficient particularity because it lacked sufficient detail about the conspirators’ alleged agreement.
The Court dismissed the claims as to those defendants not specifically identified in a particular claim, although not as to those defendants named in the claim.
While the facts gathered in discovery may show otherwise, when liberally construed, Med Script’s allegations that defendants contacted Med Script’s customers could be a sufficient portion of the relative industry, as required for a Lanham Act false advertising claim.