Victor Bruzos

Victor Bruzos

Mr. Bruzos is a graduate of Purdue University, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, a minor in Statistics and a minor in Entrepreneurship. As a non-lawyer member of the Firm’s patent staff, Mr. Bruzos assists the Firm’s patent attorneys with patent research and application preparation. 

In early 2018, Stephanie Sinclair, a professional photographer brought a copyright suit against Mashable, Inc. and its parent company, Ziff Davis, LLC. Stephanie alleged the defendants infringed on her copyright regarding one of her photographs at least because Stephanie posted said photograph to her Instagram profile wherein Mashable then displayed the photograph on one of their articles.

In discovery, Mashable created an article, and displayed Stephanie’s photograph as part of the article by virtue of embedding the photograph from Stephanie’s Instagram. It is critical to note, as opposed to directly downloading and posting and/or copying and pasting Stephanie’s photograph to Mashable’s article (which may otherwise be knowing as uploading), Mashable embedded her photograph to the article via an Instagram interface.

From the standpoint of this case, embedding may be defined as a simple process wherein a webpage author can display an image, video and/or other media source to the author’s webpage by virtue of directly linking the source of such media. The process of embedding technically allows for the author’s website to display such media without the author’s website needing to “host,” own, or in some cases, have a license for the media.

An example of embedded media may be found here. Note, that upon hovering over or selecting embedded media, a user may be directed to Instagram’s webpage or have Instagram’s information displayed above such media.

The case (which can be found here) was ultimately dismissed in full albeit many arguments made by Stephanie. The ruling came generally from the following discovery: (1) Instagram’s terms and conditions state content posted to Instagram grants Instagram (and subsequently Instagram’s embedding interface) a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to such content, (2) Stephanie agreed the above portion of Instagram’s terms and condition and (3) Mashable properly utilized Instagram’s embedding interface to display Stephanie’s photograph. Thus, a generalized conclusion could be made that Mashable was not in fact infringing on Stephanie’s copyright as Mashable was utilizing a photo licensed by Instagram and interface owned by Instagram.

Now recently, a similar suit was filed by Elliot McGuken, a photographer who took a photo of a lake and posted the photo to his Instagram page. He found himself in a near identical situation to Stephanie wherein the day after Elliot posted the photograph, he found the photo displayed on a Newsweek LLC, article. The suit outlines the fact that Elliot is suing for copyright infringement and the fact that Newsweek properly embedded Elliot’s photograph from Instagram.

In contrast to Stephanie’s case, Elliot’s case was not dismissed in full and Elliot may have an opportunity to legally claim prayer for relief in form of damages, which may be monetary. Reportedly, an Instagram representative has made comment stating that the use of their embedding interface does not directly extend Instagram’s license of content to those seeking to utilize the interface, which creates a sharp contrast for the cases as described above.

More information is sure to emerge on not only the status of Elliot McGuken vs. Newsweek, LLC, but also the use of Instagram’s embedding interface and possibly the copyright implications that may arise from its use.

Instagram is the one of the largest photograph and video-sharing social media platforms in the world. As Instagram releases more information on the subject, it is sure to be a topic for online news, blog or media outlets to pay close attention to in order to ensure compliance with copyright laws, and a subject for photographers who use Instagram to follow to ensure their rights are protected.

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In another lawsuit between Michael Jordan and Qiaodan Sports, the Supreme People’s Court ruled in favor of Michael Jordan over Qiaodan Sports for a trademark dispute. The suit arises at least over the fact that one may translate the name “Jordan” to the phonetic of “Qiaodan” in Chinese. In essence, Michael Jordan argued that his name has been misappropriated, utilized for illicit gains, and has tainted his goodwill. Qiaodan Sports defended themselves with a plethora of counter arguments, at least including the fact that “Qiaodan” may have multiple meanings and even if “Qiaodan” did reference Jordan, it may not reference Michael Jordan.

The end of the trail concluded that Qiaodan Sports misled it’s consumers with at least one of their product lines, infringing on Michael Jordan’s name. Thus, any of Qiaodan Sports’ Chinese registered trademarks bearing “Qiaodan” in the mark will be revoked from use in China. While no settlements are to be paid, and Qiaodan sports will continue to utilize their current logo, other suits are still on-going or pending between Michael and Qiaodan Sports, sure to bring further judgements.

 

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The stationary bike. A staple in any gym, fitness center or home. While the machine may seem like a standard piece of technology that has been the same since inception, any innovator knows there is always room for improvement.

In a recent suit, Peloton claims to have acted on innovation to disrupt the usage of the stationary bike from a simple workout device, to an at-home, immersive, competitive and community based workout system.

Peloton’s model comprises users having the ability to access daily live classes via a screen on the bike to compete, interact and change the landscape by which they ride. This is experience is fueled by Peloton’s data driven media-technology logistics. Essentially, "PTON" aims to control each user's experience by continuously adapting it by virtue of fostering personal connections between user and on-screen instructor, queuing users to send virtual "high-fives" to each other upon completion of a rigorous workout bit, pushing individuals to challenge virtual "leaderboards," down to manipulating music and volume level dependent on a workout’s level of difficulty.

These features, paired with their trade secrets in marketing, sales and programs have allowed the company to achieve the status of a publicly traded company and a market cap that hovers around $8 billion.

As competitors emerged, Peloton took notice of one in particular, Flywheel Sports. Flywheel produces a subjectively similar product, the “FLY Anywhere” bike. The Anywhere bike utilizes live streaming or on-demand classes, tracking a rider's performance via metrics, comparisons of rider performance to competitors and fostering an online community driven workout system.

In efforts to thwart the competitor, Peloton filed a request for jury trail wherein Peloton claims to have discovered, just months before FLY Anywhere's release, PTON’s CEO, John Foley attended a J.P. Morgan event in order to present the company to potential investors. Allegedly, one investor, Michael Milken, personally probed Foley on future business plans, market retention, and even Peloton's intellectual property. Foley claims to have then found out one month after the event that Milken was one of Flywheel's largest investors. Thus, on information and belief, Peloton claims that Milken's purpose in probing Foley was to acquire information that could help Flywheel and subsequently, the request charges Flywheel with counts of patent infringement.

Fortunately for Peloton, the choice was made to protect themselves against unfair competition through intellectual property, and more specifically, via well written patents. Details on Peloton’s patents can be found in in U.S. Patent 9,174,085, U.S. Patent 9,233,276, U.S. Patent 9,861,855 and U.S. Patent 10,322,315.

The result was the suit ending in a settlement agreement. Flywheel Sports not only admitted that they infringed on Peloton's patents, but also admitted to having copied elements of the Peloton bike in developing their own bike.

As such, Flywheel has agreed to not only discontinue the service provided by the FLY Anywhere bikes, but also discontinue selling the product. As a result, current owners will be able to trade-in their FLY Anywhere bikes for a refurbished Peloton bike, at the cost of Flywheel Sports.

Details on the case can be found here and here.

For some, buying a Rolex or other high quality watch is a statement in self and brand identity in it of itself. For others, a need arises to truly distinguish such a purchase by means of customization. For these others, a range of deemed "watch customizers" exist to re-paint, re-fit, skeletonize, or otherwise modify high quality timepieces or watches. Recently, this customization has become a large trend and it seems that watch manufacturers are paying attention.

In watch manufacturers paying attention, such a watch customizer, La Californienne is now being sued by Rolex for trademark counterfeiting, infringement and false representation.

La Californienne markets themselves as a company that at least, replaces original watch crystals, refashions watch bezels and alters the (watch) dials by stripping the paint and finish from the original watch face dials, and repainting and refinishing them in various vibrant colors (reinstalling Rolex marks and original indicia). In interpretation, La Californienne obtains an original watch, such as a Rolex, and modifies portions of the watch, then re-sells the creation.

At the time of writing, examples of their creations can be found here and in the images below.

Rolex asserts, La Californienne modified watches (although derived and customized from original Rolex watches) should be deemed "Counterfeit." This deeming comes from at least examination of two separate La Californienne modified Rolex watches. In examination, Rolex was able to determine La Californienne had at least reprinted or re-attached some of Rolex's registered trademarks, and more subsequently, installed non-genuine products of Rolex on the watches such as a crystal, refinished the dial surface, which may lead to debris in the movement of the watch to affect time keeping ability, and improperly fitted a bezel, which may allow water to leak through the watch adversely affecting the watch. Importantly, Rolex also noted that La Californienne added their name to a dial on one of the watches. Rolex also utilized La Californienne’s web presence to determine how they modify Rolex watches.

In assertion, Rolex is claiming that La Californienne is confusing and deceiving the public because their use of Rolex Registered Trademarks tends to and does create the erroneous impression that La Californienne's products and services emanate or originate from Rolex and/or that the products and services are authorized, sponsored or approved by Rolex, even though they are not. In legal terms, Rolex is claiming that a likelihood of consumer confusion is created by La Californienne which may cause irreparable harm to Rolex and the Rolex Registered Trademarks.

As Rolex believes La Californienne is being unjustly enriched by illegally using and misappropriating Rolex's intellectual property for their own financial gain, Rolex seeks damages, La Californienne's profits, and attorney's fees.

 

 

More on the case can be found here: Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. v. Reference Watch LLC d/b/a/ La Californienne et al