Ralston Hotels, a national hotel chain, offers guests an in-room video rental service. A menu is displayed on the guest’s interactive television screen, and the guest can select both a movie and a starting time by using his remote control. Portland Pictures, a major movie producer that owns the video rental rights to its movies, sues Ralston, alleging that each selected movie is a public performance and demanding royalties. Who should prevail? Would your answer differ if Ralston made particular movies available only at certain times?
Bob sells a famous brand of beer, Burp. The beer is the only one sold in bright blue pear shaped bottles. The bright blue color has become so well known to consumers that its primary significance in the beer context is an indication of source. Bob’s national advertising reinforces the link between the color blue and Bob as a source of beer. Accordingly, the color blue has become quite famous as a mark for Bob’s beer. Bob has registered the mark blue, as a color used as trade dress on beer bottles. Bob learns that a large shoemaker (Nuke) has begun selling a line of running shoes in exactly the same shade of blue as Bob’s beer bottles. They call this shoe Blue. Bob does not think there is the requisite likelihood of confusion to support an infringement action. But Bob becomes concerned that the use of the color will decrease the distinctiveness of the Bob mark.
Could Bob bring a successful action under the federal dilution provision? What about Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act? Explain fully.
In the late 1980’s, the New Kids on the Block were an enormously successful pop music group, especially among the younger teen market. Capitalizing on this success, the New Kids sold over 500 products or services bearing their trademarked name. Among those services were 900 numbers that fans could call to learn more about the New Kids, or talk to the New Kids themselves. During the height of the New Kids craze, the newspaper USA Today conducted a telephone poll that allowed readers to vote for their favorite New Kid (or for none of the above if they did not like the band at all) by calling a USA Today 900 number. As a part of the poll, the paper included captioned pictures of each of the band members. Suppose that the New Kids on the Block sued USA Today for infringement of their right of publicity. Do they have a claim under California law?
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