In the same week that it started rolling out its Timeline feature to New Zealand users, Facebook also filed a countersuit against Timelines.com, a company accusing the social network of infringing on its name.
Timelines.com sued Facebook in late September, arguing that Facebook's Timeline is "confusingly similar" to Timelines.com.
Facebook Timeline, unveiled at September's f8 conference, serves as a digital "this is your life." Once available, users can chart their entire Facebook history via Timeline, from their first friend to the most recent status update.
Timelines.com says its website "gives users the ability to create customized web pages featuring user-defined information about historical, current and upcoming events." The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company a trademark for Timelines in September 2009.
In its response to the Timelines.com suit, Facebook acknowledges as much, and said it was aware of the trademark. But Facebook "determined that ...the term 'timelines' is merely descriptive of, or generic for, the services offered by [Timelines.com] and thus [Timlines.com's] trademark registrations are unenforceable and subject to cancellation." However, this is a dangerous game for Facebook, a company...
If the vitality of film banking reflects the health of the independent production sector, then there are plenty of encouraging signs despite the ongoing turmoil in the global financial system.
After the shake-out following the credit crunch in 2008, the stalwart lenders who stuck with indie film through thick and thin, such as Union Bank of California, Comerica and City National Bank, are reaping the reward with expansion in their business.
A number of new entrants are also emerging, including National Bank of Canada, East West Bank and OneWest Bank.
At the same time, Wall Street's capital markets are waking up again to the opportunities offered in the more risky but also more rewarding areas of gap and mezzanine finance.
"It's an optimistic time now, and will become more optimistic in the next year," says Myles Nestel, the former banker who recently launched a sales and financing venture called the Solution Entertainment Group in partnership with veteran sales agent Lisa Wilson.
Union Bank, the market leader in single-picture financing, is expanding its entertainment team under senior VP Bryan LaCour after a record year in 2011, when it doubled its deal volume to $800 million from its previous average of $350 million-$400...
As with all legal issues touched upon in this blog, this information should be used as a guide only. You should always talk to a qualified entertainment lawyer regarding any legal issue.
Generally speaking, you can refer to trademarks by name without permission. The only exception would be using someone else's trademark in what amounts to a competitive product. For example, you couldn't have a superhero named "Spiderman" or a spaceship named "Enterprise" (both trademarks), although you could, for example, have a character look around a high-tech building and say, "What the hell is this, the Starship Enterprise?" or sarcastically say to someone hanging from the side of a building, "Who do you think you are, Spiderman?"
With regards to having a character sing a few lines from a copyrighted song, you will need obtain clearance to perform the said piece from your country's music clearance organisation (ASCAP, BMI, SEASAC, etc). Depending on the profile of the music, this may or may not attract a fee. Generally if you are not using an original recording (i.e. having the character sing the lines instead of the original artist) clearance is a lot cheaper. Again, contact a lawyer, like me.
A film production company is no different from any other type of company, so the same rules and processes apply. Starting any new business requires a good deal of research and planning, particularly if you are intending to raise money from third-party investors to help fund the venture.
The first thing that most people do before starting a new business is write a business plan. A business plan is a document, which outlines how the business will be set up, how it will operate, and how it will make money. As most business plans are written for people who may not necessarily have first hand knowledge of the industry in which the business is going to operate, the plan normally must also include an overview of the market and information on how the business is going to compete effectively in that market. All information presented in a business plan should be researched and supported with verifiable facts. Itâs not a good idea to use anecdotal or made-up information in a business plan, at best it just means you are deluding yourself about the viability of your business idea; at worst, getting investors on board with inaccurate information could land you in hot water further down the road.
Business plan writing is a bit of an art...
Getting investors on board your film is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the filmmaking process, and also one that can be fraught with many risks. Indie filmmaking lore is full of stories of filmmakers who begged, borrowed, or proverbially stole the money to make their films, stories, which of course end in box-office gold or Sundance glory. But for every âBrothers McMullenâ, âEl Mariachiâ, âClerksâ, or âBlair Witch Projectâ, there are at least 10 miserable failures; stories of filmmakers who poured heart, soul, and comparatively plenty of cash only to be left with an expensive tin of celluloid that nobody wants.
Placing money in independent films is a risky investment. So when you are looking to get investors on board your project (particularly people who are outside your circle of family and friends) itâs essential that you take a professional approach and set realistic expectations for the potential risks and rewards. The best way to do this is to prepare a business plan or prospectus which outlines what is required to produce the film and how you are going to generate enough money from it to repay your investors (hopefully with a little profit too).
When preparing any kind of business plan, itâs essential that...
It isn't possible to copyright a movie name, so from a legal perspective there is no need to check whether it's available or not. In most instances you can call your movie whatever you want, regardless of how many other movies have the same title.
The only area where this might be murky is in the instance where your title is or contains a registered trademark. If you suspect this is the case, then you will either need to find another title, or consult a lawyer (like yours truly) to get a better understanding of your position (just because it is a registered trademark doesn't necessarily mean you can't use it, but you should get professional advice to be sure).
In saying all of this, it may still be worth checking which other movies have the same or similar titles to your own, particularly those which have been made recently. If your film is about to enter distribution the last thing you want is for another film with the same title to also be out in the marketplace causing confusion in minds of the audience.
Probably the easiest and best place to check is the Internet Movie Database.
Copyright law is designed to protect intellectual property in expressions of creative works including books, music, drama, art, sound recordings, films and videos, and broadcasts. It cannot be used to protect ideas, rather it protects the way the idea is expressed in a piece of work. For example, you cannot copyright the rules for a game of chess, however you can copyright a book you have written outlining the rules of chess, since the book is the "expression" of the idea.
In terms of company names, these do not fall within the scope of copyright law at all, so you can't "copyright" them. If you are asking this question, what you are really asking is, "how do I stop other people from using my company name?" Unfortunately there is no one simple answer to this question because it involves several areas, and the higher the degree of protection you want, the more money you will need to shell out. See, our fees here. Consider the following areas as a starting point:
An article with a description of the differences between copyright vs trademark can also be reviewed.
Register Your Company
In most countries, it is possible to register your business with a state or national government authority. Business names can only be registered if...
Generally speaking, if you use a product positively in a film for the purpose it was intended (i.e. your character drinks a can of Coke or eats a packet of chips) there should be no problems; you don't have to use generic labeled products. And obviously products, which aren't featured in your film, (e.g. a packet of Kellogg's cornflakes sitting on a shelf in the background) should also not be an issue.
Problems can arise in two main areas. First, if you show a product in a bad light (i.e. your character drinks a can of Coke then says, "Wow. Coke sucks!"), the company that produces it may not be too happy with you. This may constitute what is called âtrade defamation,â similar to a famous 1997-98 case involving comments made by Ophra Winfrey on her show about the US beef industry.
The second area is a little more difficult, and is the best reason why you should involve a trademark attorney in the final decision of using specific products in your film. Although you may not see any specific problems with using a specific product in your film, a manufacturer or trademark owner could, amongst other things, decide that they don't want their product associated with all or part of your film. This could be for a variety of reasons, but...
Recently, Summit Entertainment, the studio behind the âTwilightâ series, filed a lawsuit in Federal court against the owner of Twilight.com.
The studio is suing for copyright and trademark infringement and demanding gains, profits and advantages from the defendant.
The complaint was filed against Tom Marskon, and TM Consulting, in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California on Sept. 2, 2011.
According to the lawsuit:
âSummit learned that defendant is using the âTwilightâ intellectual property on his website in a variety of ways, including posting links to download âTwilightâ recordings, posting links for unauthorized Twilight contests and fake casting calls for the âTwilightâ motion pictures,â according to the complaint.
The studio said the site is âleading consumers to believe that they had reached the official âTwilightâ Motion Picture Web site.â
According to the complaint, Markson is being sued for âfalse designation of origin, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition and copyright.â The studio says they sent him two cease-and-desist letters in 2009.
Based on Stephenie Meyerâs best-selling books series, Summit has released three âTwilightâ films since 2008.
Twilight.com as it exists today...
Facebook is no stranger to the trademark infringement lawsuits; however, they are the ones currently being sued over their new Facebook Timeline profiles, by Timelines.com.
Facebook Timeline, is a feature that was unveiled last week and will be rolled out over the coming weeks, transforms the Facebook user profile into a virtual scrapbook that lays out your digital history. Last week, Timelines Inc. sued Facebook for trademark infringement on its new Facebook Timeline product, arguing that implementing it would put Timelines Inc. out of business. But an "emergency" judge named to the case implied that Timelines has an uphill battle in establishing its own "Timelines" trademark.
In a hearing earlier today, Judge Edmond E. Chang, named to temporarily replace Judge John Darrah as the presiding judge, did not grant a temporary restraining order against Facebook, as Timelines had asked for. Instead, the judge on Friday simply ordered Facebook to disclose, on a daily basis, how many users had been granted access to Facebook's Timelines: about 1.1 million users as of last Friday, with an additional 100,000 to 200,000 users added per day. All, so far, have been, or have said they are, developers who have registered to use the feature.