3 Count: Led Hearing

How to get 11 federal judges in one room...

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1: Federal Judge Dismisses ‘Tardigrades’ Copyright Suit Over Star Trek: Discovery

First off today, Carlos Pedraza at AxaMonitor reports that the judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by video game developer Anas Abdin over the TV show Star Trek: Discovery. According to the judge, the similarities between the works involved were not adequate to sustain the case, prompting its dismissal.

Abdin first pointed out the similarities between his in-development video game Tardigrades in September 2017 and filed a lawsuit against CBS and others involved in Star: Trek Discovery in August 2018. According to Abdin, Discovery shared a large number of similarities with his game including similar characters, plot points and other elements.

However, after more than a year of back and forth, the judge has ruled that the similarities between the two do not amount to copyright infringement and that many of the alleged unique elements were not original to Abdin’s work. As such, the judge dismissed the lawsuit. Abdin, for his part, seems to have accepted the ruling. He said in a blog post that he hopes others will do the same.

2: Original or Copied? ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Is Back in Court

Next up today, Ben Sisario at The New York Times reports that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is holding a rare en banc hearing today. In it, the full panel of 11 judges will hear the Stairway to Heaven case and determine whether the matter should be sent back down to the lower court for a retrial.

The case pits the estate of Randy Wolfe, the guitarist for the band Spirit, against members of the band Led Zeppelin. According to the estate, Zeppelin infringed on the Spirit song Taurus when creating their iconic hit Stairway to Heaven. Previously a jury had sided with Led Zeppelin in the case, saying that there was no infringement. However, on appeal, a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit said the jury had not received proper instructions and that the case needed to be retried.

However, now the case is being heard en banc, meaning the full panel of 11 judges will hear the matter. Such hearings are rare, especially in copyright, but one will take place today. A ruling is not expected for several months but will determine if the case needs to be retried or if the Led Zeppelin victory will stand.

3: E*Trade Beat the Copyright, False Designation Case Filed Against it by Instagram’s “Coolest Man”

Finally today, The Fashion Law reports that E*Trade has emerged victorious in a lawsuit filed by Gianluca Vacchi, granting a motion to dismiss.

Vacchi sued in April 2019 alleging that E*Trade, in their commercials, infringed upon a character he created for himself. He argued that his Instagram presence and notoriety as the “coolest man on Instagram” amounted to a copyright-protected character that E*Trade had infringed upon.

However, the court found no substantial similarity between Vacchi’s work and E*Trade’s commercials. Furthermore, the court found the elements that Vacchi alleged were copied were not protectable under copyright law. It is unclear if Vacchi is planning on appealing.

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