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In October 2011, the State of California filed its first lawsuit against 3 companies for “greenwashing” their plastic bottles. Enso Plastics LLC, who makes the bottles, and AquaMantra Inc and Balance Water Co., who use the bottles to sell their drinks, all claimed the bottles were biodegradable without any evidence to back up their claim. The companies claim they have added a microbial additive that make the bottles biodegradable and recycle and will break down in less than five years in a landfill. However, California law prohibits labeling food and drink plastic containers as biodegradable on the grounds that plastic…

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Trademark Bullying

Trademark owners have a right and an obligation to actively protect their trademarks from misuse. Failure to do so may result in consequences such as consumers being confused as to the source of the goods or services, harm to the trademark owner’s reputation, lost sales, and, eventually, loss of the trademark rights altogether. There is a fine line, however, between actively protecting one’s trademark and bullying other businesses into dropping their trademark because the two marks are vaguely similar. What is trademark bullying, and what can be done about it?

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Copyright Small Claims?

The Copyright Act protects many works that may not have great commercial value. When a copyrighted work, like a photograph, is used without permission, there is often not a significant amount of economic damage to the copyright owner, and the costs of bringing a lawsuit against the infringer may actually dissuade them from filing a lawsuit. Imagine someone takes one of your Facebook photos and uses it on her personal website without your permission. Your copyright in that photo has been infringed, but what are you going to do about it? In the real world, this type of infringement usually…

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Who Owns Lady Gaga – Names as Trademarks

Lady Gaga is currently one of the biggest selling recording artists in the world, the most followed person on Twitter with almost 15,000,000 million followers, and generates millions in revenue from her recordings, tours, and merchandise. So when Excite Worldwide, a company unaffiliated with Lady Gaga, attempted to register the name LADY GAGA as a trademark for their cosmetics and jewelry line, Lady Gaga responded by filing a lawsuit. What are the rules about names as trademarks, and do they apply equally to famous names and the names of regular people?

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