Colorado readers may be interested to learn that a landmark ruling has been made regarding the copyright interests of the last professional photographs ever taken of Marilyn Monroe. On July 20, a federal judge in New York ruled that 2,571 images from the late photographer Bert Stern's famous "Last Sitting" collection belong to a trust set up for his heirs.
People in Colorado who grew up watching "Sesame Street" will get very different content from the upcoming R-rated movie "The Happytime Murders." Comedian Melissa McCarthy stars alongside puppets in the film directed by Brian Henson, son of famed puppeteer Jim Henson who created many well-known Muppet characters for the children's educational television show. Upset by the film's raunchy content, Sesame Workshop, which makes the children's show, sued the film's distributor for its use of the slogan "No Sesame. All Street."
Colorado residents may be aware that athletes and entertainers often protect logos and other images that identify their brands with trademarks, but they may not be aware that their names, signatures, voices and catchphrases could also be protected intellectual property. Image rights have been the subject of intense media coverage in recent years in various parts of the world, and celebrities and athletes including Sean Connery, Curtis Jackson, who is known by the stage name 50 Cent, Beyoncé and David Beckham have all taken steps to ensure that their images are protected.
The company behind the iconic television series "I Love Lucy" is suing the network the show originally ran on over a name dispute. The company, founded by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1950, alleges that the television network is using an identical image and name. The company claims that the use of the same name by the network is causing issues with the studio's existing creative-development deals.
For many entrepreneurs and business people in Colorado, intellectual property is a highly prized asset. Indeed, for the tech industry in particular, copyrights, trademarks, patents and other IP have led to some particularly well-known disputes that have required extensive litigation to resolve. During acquisitions and mergers, many technology corporations view handling potential intellectual property issues as paramount.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 appears to contain good news for businesses in Colorado that earn income from intellectual property. Previously, corporations might pay as much as 35 percent in taxes on royalties from patents and other intellectual property. Tax reform has lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, but the act specifies a lower rate of 13.125 percent for income from intellectual property.
For today's artists to be able to use the works of others freely, said works have to be in the public domain; otherwise, the works would still be protected by copyright laws. Citizens of Colorado might be surprised to learn that no new works have entered the public domain in the U.S. since 1923, according to recent estimates.
Many entrepreneurs in Colorado and across the United States want to protect their ideas and the unique labels they have created for them through the trademark process. It can provide specific protection for a business name, and a memorable one can be a huge part of any company's marketing plan. Filing for a trademark can involve significant preparation and concern about meeting various laws and regulations that govern the process.
As those in Colorado may know, intellectual property disputes can involve disagreements between large corporations over distribution procedures. Such is the case with entertainment giant Disney and one of the major rental distribution companies, Redbox.
Life scientists and companies in Colorado planning to protect their rights to biotechnology have hit legal hurdles in recent years. A 2012 decision from the Supreme Court of the United States narrowed the ability to award patents for biotechnology, and courts have been striking down existing patents that intellectual property owners had once thought secure. Concerned parties, such as the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the American Bar Association's Section of Intellectual Property Law and the Intellectual Property Owners Association have proposed revising a portion of U.S. patent law to spell out specific guidelines for determining which biotechnology deserves patent protection.