Yes, Hollywood studios tend to be fiercely protective of their intellectual property. These studios will often sue over unlicensed merchandise in the marketplace. Usually, these cases go away quickly and quietly. The defendants tend not to have the resources to fight back. Settlements and stipulated judgments are the norm. Well, not this time.
On Friday, summary judgment papers came in a lawsuit that Disney has filed in New York against Nick Sarelli, who runs an operation called Characters for Hire, LLC.
Disney alleges that Sarelli has a “knock-off business … built upon the infringement of Plaintiffs’ highly valuable intellectual property rights,” including the fictional characters Darth Vader, Iron Man and Elsa and Anna from Frozen. Disney is upset how this company “provides unlicensed and poor quality appearances and performances” by actors dressed as “iconic characters for themed events, such as children’s parties.”
The lawsuit claims that the costumed actors appearing at these events and the advertising associated with this enterprise represent a violation of both its copyrights and trademark rights.
Anyone who has ever visited Times Square in New York City might wonder about the costumed characters taking pictures with tourists for money. The New York Police Department once even tried to get Disney to crack down. Disney didn’t take the bait, but for whatever reason, Mickey Mouse has put its foot down for Characters for Hire.
Who really owns the CG characters in blockbuster films like ‘Avengers’ and ‘Night at the Museum’? On Monday, a judge was told it’s not the studios.
Are some of Hollywood’s biggest movies from the past decade — Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Deadpool and Night at the Museum, among others — all copyright infringements because they were allegedly created with stolen technology? The question seems outlandish, and yet, that’s exactly what a California federal judge was told on Monday in a case that can’t be shrugged off as a crank even if it is now treading on some fantastic territory including a scholar’s search for hidden codes in the Hebrew Bible.
Rearden LLC is the plaintiff. The firm was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Perlman, who claims to own software called MOVA, which captures facial expressions to create photorealistic computer graphic effects. Rearden also alleges its technology was stolen by a former colleague before eventually landing in the hands of a Chinese firm. After the FBI investigated economic espionage, Rearden sued this Chinese company and won an injunction. Now, Rearden is suing the customers of the stolen technology — Disney, Fox and Paramount — who find their blockbusters the subject of bold intellectual property claims.
In response to the lawsuit, the studios have contended that that the copyright, trademark and patent claims fail as a matter of law. This story will focus on the mind-blowing copyright arguments.
At this stage of the dispute, the studios can’t dispute the truth of the allegations — not only did they use stolen technology, they did so knowingly. But Disney, Fox and Paramount ask, so what? Whatever shows up onscreen is primarily the product of human input, namely film direction and an actor’s performance. The technology company simply can’t own the output.
“Indeed, if Rearden’s authorship-ownership theory were law, then Adobe or Microsoft would be deemed to be the author-owner of whatever expressive works the users of Photoshop or Word generate by using those programs,” wrote Kelly Klaus, attorney for the defendants, who also nodded to an 1884 Supreme Court opinion, Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony.
Pablo Escobar, one of the world’s wealthiest and most notorious drug lords, met his end nearly a quarter-century ago, but his legacy continues to cast a shadow over the Netflix drama “Narcos.”
On September 11, Carlos Munoz Portal, a location manager for the Netflix television series “Narcos,” was found dead. He had suffered multiple gunshot wounds in a car on a dirt road outside Mexico City, near a site he was scouting for future episodes of the TV show.
n the wake of Portal’s death, Pablo Escobar’s brother is bringing his year-long trademark dispute with Netflix back into the headlines through an interview he gave The Hollywood Reporter (THR). In that interview, speaking of “Narcos,” which based its first two seasons on Pablo Escobar’s life, he reportedly said he would “close their little show” if the streaming service did not reach a settlement agreement with him.
Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria is Pablo Escobar’s brother and former accountant. He is also the founder of holding company Escobar Inc.. In July of 2016, his company requested $1 billion compensation from Netflix for what it contends are intellectual property violations. It claims the streaming service has reaped substantial financial benefits from the popular global series by using Escobar’s name and story.
Police placed 27 people under investigation as part of a major anti-mafia operation in Lombardy in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
A town mayor is among those accused of corruption in the investigation into ties between the ‘Ndrangheta mafia clan and the worlds of business and politics.
Edoardo Mazza, the mayor of Seregno in Monza province representing Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, was placed under house arrest. Mazza is accused of corruption for awarding construction contracts to groups linked to the ‘Ndrangheta, according to Rai News.
In total, 21 people were arrested, while three were placed under house arrest and another three also face charges. The charges include extortion, abuse of office, bodily harm, drug trafficking, and bribery, all of which are aggravated due to the connection to aggravated crime.
The investigation, which has been coordinated by Milan’s anti-mafia authority (DDA) and prosecutors in Monza, northeast of Milan, began in 2015 and included arrests across the Lombardy region, in Monza, Milan, Pavia, Como and Reggio Calabria.
The stronghold of the ‘Ndrangheta is in Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot, but arrests over the past two years show it is operating in northern Italy.
Police believe it has grown bigger than the more well known Sicilian and Neapolitan mafias through its successful cocaine trafficking from Latin America.
Civil rights groups on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security, demanding a review of allegations by pregnant women who were detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“The policy violations and inhumane treatment addressed in the complaint are of especially great concern given the Trump administration’s executive orders directing ICE to dramatically expand immigration enforcement actions and increase the number of individuals subject to immigration detention,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement.
The administrative complaint includes accounts from multiple women who were detained by ICE while pregnant, including one woman who said she was unable to obtain medical attention after telling officials she was pregnant and bleeding.